What Do Your Weird Coronavirus Dreams Mean?

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What Do Your Weird Coronavirus Dreams Mean?
Self

You’re not imagining the increase in restless nights, or the unusually vivid and bizarre images that are recalled to you in flashes the next morning. It seems our collective subconsciousness appears to be reacting to the coronavirus by giving us a cinematic reel of whacky dreams from supermarket brawls to tidal waves.

And you probably aren't the only one. Just take one search on Twitter under #pandemicdreams and you’ll read about countless other inventions of the quarantined mind. 

Have you been having weird coronavirus dreams?

RELATED: How To Decode What Your Dreams Mean (So They Can Help You When You're Awake, Too)

Well, now that we’re all spending every waking hour worrying about one thing, it’s no wonder our sleep cycles are being destroyed by it, too. Increased stress and anxiety, as well as a lack of control over our situation, has made these dreams inescapable for many.

If you’re starting your work-from-home day with 3 cups of coffee after yet another sleepless night, you might be wondering what is with these weird coronavirus dreams. Because it’s not just Twitter that has latched on to this craze.

Experts are researching the effects of the pandemic on our sleep cycles.

According to an ongoing study that the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France initiated in March, the coronavirus pandemic has caused 35 percent of participants to remember their dreams, and 15 percent of people have reported an increase in negative dreams.

A different study led by Associazione Italiana di Medicina del Sonno (the Italian Association of Sleep Medicine) is analyzing the dreams of Italians confined during the outbreak. Many of these quarantined participants have experienced nightmares that are similar to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

These vivid dreams usually happen during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a sleep stage during which our brain activity is similar to when awake. This allows our brains to conjure vivid and realistic scenarios. When sleep is interrupted during REM, remembering these dreams is more likely.

With the coronavirus causing increased stress in many of us, we’re a lot more likely to stay in the lighter stages of sleep. Seriously, who can sleep deeply in the midst of a global crisis?

With our sleep cycles becoming increasingly interrupted, there is a much higher chance for bizarre our panic dreams to be recalled by our conscious minds.  

Why are you experiencing these dreams, and what do they mean?

It probably has something to do with the overload of surreal information we consume every time we look at a news app or social media. Psychologist Rubin Naiman said, “When waking life is more vivid, so is dream life.” 

Naiman describes how our brain consumes information similarly to how a biology teacher talks about the gut. When we observe something normal, our brains don’t need to “digest” it, he says. However, when something out of the ordinary happens — like a pandemic — our brains use our dreams as a way to process the information.

That’s why “difficult-to-digest” experiences may give us dreams. Naiman explains, “At a time like this, we’re all directly or symbolically digesting information about the threat, about contagion.”

RELATED: How To Cope With The Difficult Circumstances Of Coronavirus Isolation

Many people reported work-from-home-related dreams. Maybe you’ve imagined accidentally unmuting yourself on a work call while you shout at your kids or dreamt about a pay cut or job loss. This plays into our obvious economic fears at this time and the insecurity we all feel at work.

Some respondents to this survey referred to masses of white worms attacking them during sleep, perhaps a personification of the virus we’re fighting against.

Last week I dreamt about hugging friends I hadn’t seen in months, a clear indication of how my subconscious was reacting to social distancing.

Some dreams are less obvious, though. A family member told me about her recurring dream where she’s running with all her power but not moving anywhere. She’s a healthcare worker, so I can only imagine that people on the frontline of this crisis must be feeling like even their hardest efforts aren’t enough.

While we struggle to adapt to life during a pandemic, our minds are plagued with worries about our present and future. With less of our usual coping mechanisms, these anxieties plague our subconscious at night. 

How can you reduce restless nights and get better sleep?

Even though social distancing and quarantine are unavoidable (for now!), these dreams definitely are not. So, if you’re tired of running around and panicking in your sleep, there are some steps you can take to sleep more soundly. 

1. Try reducing the amount of time spent on your devices.

While it’s important to stay up to date on what’s going on, social media can be an anxiety-inducing place right now.

Putting all electronics away at least 30 minutes before bed gives your mind time to unwind before going to sleep. Try reading a book in bed instead of watching Netflix.

2. Journal.

Journaling is an awesome way to work through all your crazy thoughts and worries while you’re awake so your mind doesn’t have to do it while you’re asleep. Taking a pen to paper before you go to sleep allows all your worries to seep onto the page instead of the pillow. 

3. Stay active.

Meditating and exercise are both important ways to reduce stress during your waking hours.

Doing a home workout or going for a walk will burn energy and give you a more restful sleep. And meditation is a proven relaxation technique that has been linked to improving sleep and reducing insomnia.

4. Keep your bedroom cool and comfortable.

Clear your floor and dressers before you sleep so your room feels as uncluttered as your mind. Avoid working from home in your bedroom if possible so your mind has a clear distinction between work and relaxation.

RELATED: What Having Any Of These 5 Common Dreams Reveals About Your True Personality

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Alice Kelly is a writer with a passion for entertainment, lifestyle and trading topics.

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