Why Dreams & Nightmares Are So Vivid During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Why are your nightmares so vivid during this pandemic?

Why Dreams & Nightmares Are So Vivid During The Coronavirus Pandemic from getty

What is emerging in your dreams during this pandemic? For many, your dreams have become more vivid, more complex, and often fraught with images, stories, and emotions that aren't part of your usual dream repertoire.

These are known as "coronavirus dreams."

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You're probably off your usual routine, changing your sleeping and waking habits to correspond with working from home. This also means that you may be remembering your dreams more often.

Some folks may be sleep deprived as they struggle to balance work and childcare, but many are catching up on much-needed sleep in a chronically sleep-deprived culture.

This means more hours of REM, or "rapid eye movement" sleep, which is the part of the sleep cycle in which you dream.

Are you having more nightmares now?

The coronavirus has changed not only your outside world, but your inner landscapes and dreamscapes as well. Your dreams may be darker, scarier, and sometimes more memorable than you would wish them to be.


For example, for the first time in my life, I screamed out loud in my sleep. When my husband asked me what happened, I responded simply, “I had a nightmare.” I didn’t remember the content, but the emotion sure came through loud and clear.

By paying attention to and working to understand your dreams, you have a window in what your mind, body, and soul are telling you they need right now.

If you process your emotions and your dream stories, you can bring renewal and healing and more peace to your own waking life and potentially the lives of others around you.

Your dreams provide you with a processing option. Working through fear in your dreams — or after you wake and realize it was a dream — helps to desensitize you to some extent.


This allows you to rehearse — or practice, if you will —  what you need to do in your waking life.

There are common COVID-19 nightmare themes.

There are some common pandemic themes that seem to be emerging. One of the main emotions is anxiety.

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Some are having terrifying nightmares about the end of the world in some form, others are dreaming of metaphoric images of bugs, of swarms of locusts, of termites eating away at the wood and the house coming down.

There are other dreams where the main theme is vulnerability or exposure. One woman I know said of her dream, “I'm getting dressed to go out, but all of my clothes, even the soles of my shoes, have holes in them.”


Another says of theirs, “I have a dangerous secret, and I'm afraid that any minute I will be found out and exposed.”

The virus brings you face to face with loss and death, literally and figuratively. Grief is a little death, and you're grieving the lost parts of your life right now, whether or not you personally have loved ones who died.

One dreamer reported crying “buckets of tears” in his dreams and filling his living room with a small lake.

It reminded him of the scene in "Alice in Wonderland" where Alice cried when she was her normal size, but then drinks the potion that makes her small and ends up swimming in a pool of her own tears.


Some dreams have biblical proportions of the Passover plagues, Jesus crucified, or the Tower of Babel.

Learning how to balance your nightmares with dreams of hope will help you reclaim your life.

During the pandemic, there are also dreams of faith and hope for the future.


When you dream that there's the faith you'll prevail, that you'll heal, that your world will recover, it gives you hope for the future.

What can you all do to preserve your life force, and help others to do so as well? What is one thing do you need to release, or let go of, or transform so that you move from virus and illness back into your life?

Ask yourself that question regarding you, your family, and your world. Is it greed? Self-centeredness? Fear? Or, more prosaically for the moment, social gatherings?

Take your dreams into your own life, listen to their messages, and use them for healing your life and your planet.

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Linda Yael Schiller, MSW, LICSW is a body, mind, and spiritual psychotherapist, consultant, and international speaker. For more on how she can help you, look into her book, “Modern Dreamwork: New Tools for Decoding Your Soul’s Wisdom” or visit her website.