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are covid pandemic lockdowns affecting your sleep?

Dream expert Rose Inserra identifies why your dreams may have been a little strange lately.

Have you been having weird and vivid dreams since the COVID-19 pandemic?

A significant number of people around the world have been recalling dreams for the first time, and lack of sleep, disturbed sleep, nightmares, vivid dreams, exhaustion and anxiety were widely reported.

Globally, people suffered from nightmares and anxiety dreams – or quarantine dreams, known as ‘quarandreams’.

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Quarandreams

Dreaming usually helps us cope with crises as our subconscious makes sense of them, but in a time of heightened alert our brains have much more to process during sleep and dreaming. The stress of lockdown, relationship and job security worries and a loss of all things familiar triggered emotional and terrifying dreams.

The threat of the virus insidiously entering into our subconscious has led to more anxiety dreams where the dreamer experienced fear, embarrassment, social taboos, work-related stress, grief and loss, as well as terrifying literal dreams centring on contamination, disease and death.

Common dream themes during the pandemic

Catching or dying from the virus

People had dreams in which they were spiking a fever, catching the virus, and/or dying from it, with respiratory distress causing an inability to breathe. The most common dream was one with elderly parents and grandparents dying.

Apocalyptic dreams

Dreams are very sensitive to collective feelings that the world is turning chaotic or ending, which is why many people experienced end-of-time dreams.

Drowning or natural disasters

Water-based dreams were the most common, as water represents emotion such as sadness and worry.

Children missing, hurt or in danger

Children missing, being abducted, hurt or in danger relates to the real-life fear of losing a family member to the virus or missing out on aspects of a child’s or grandchild’s normal life.

Wild animals or monsters

Wild animals or monsters are the dreaming mind’s way of making sense of the concept of ‘uncontrollable forces’ experienced in waking life.

Bugs, insects, snakes

In dreams bugs can easily be understood by the nickname we have for infectious germs and viruses being referred to as ‘bugs’ or from the saying ‘catching a bug’.

Like bugs, snakes ‘bite’ and often it’s their bite can be deadly. Likening it to a venomous reptile simply reflects the fear of catching the virus.

War, violence and law breaking

Dreaming of violence involving shooting or explosions is a message from the dream state that the dreamer is in danger.

Theme parks, sports stadiums and large public places

Empty and abandoned theme parks, sports and entertainment stadiums and large public spaces reflect the loss of fun and social interactions gained from attending concerts, sports and theme parks.

Intruders and invisible or uncontrollable entities

COVID-19 spread quietly and invaded unsuspecting hosts, similar to what an intruder or invisible entity or monster does.

Being lost and escape dreams

A sense of being lost or finding things you’ve never known or experienced before is part of experiencing a completely different set of circumstances that had to be adapted to on a daily basis.

Every dream has multiple meanings, some of which take time and reflection to recognise and digest. In times of global crises, dreams offer a valuable insight into the collective condition and raise awareness of our interconnectedness.

Rose Inserra is the author of Inside Your Dreams: An Advanced Guide to Your Night Visions (Rockpool Publishing, $29.99). Find out more at www.rockpoolpublishing.co