How the pandemic is affecting your dreams

By Editor on 30th Apr 2020

A woman asleep in bed

Dreams, and the science behind them, remain somewhat of a mystery to us. Although much research has been conducted on how and why our brains act as they do when we are asleep, there is still a lot to be discovered and understood.

Whereas some individuals with anxiety disorders are reporting that their symptoms and triggers have lessened during this period of quarantine and self-isolation, others explain that the current restrictions and changes to their daily life are negatively impacting their mental health. This negativity, and feelings of stress, can manifest in our subconscious through dreams.

It is theorised that the limited amount of social exposure that we are now experiencing is causing our brains to remain especially active during sleep, i.e. our brains aren’t being stimulated as much during the day. Further, if individuals are spending more time in front of a screen, the higher amount of blue light can influence our circadian rhythm, which helps us sleep.

Lockdown Dreams is a research project created by an independent group of postgraduate psychoanalysis students in London, The group is asking people to fill in an online survey about their dreams, to collate and study the impact Covid-19 is having on our sleeping minds. As the Guardian reports: “So far, the most common trend people are reporting is richer and more detailed dreams than usual – a sharp contrast to the monotony of daytime lockdown. “Everyone’s quite shocked by the fact that they’re having incredibly vivid dreams. That’s so interesting because our material waking lives have become, in a way, duller. But this is being reflected in a more vivid dreaming life. Our minds are reaching out to try and make something from the little stimuli we’re receiving being locked down, and bringing up things we’ve completely forgotten about,” said Jake Roberts, a spokesperson for Lockdown Dreams.”

As our minds are absorbing less information during the day, our brains are also digger deeper into our memories to find new information to process or think over. This is why many of us may be dreaming about past events or incidents that haven’t crossed our minds in years.

In the short term, there is little that can be changed if you are experiencing more vivid dreams. There are apps available – such as Calm – that use meditation as a tool to aid in a deep sleep. However, research does suggest that when the isolation and quarantine ends, our dreams should go back to normal.

Related article: How meditation can impact your life

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