Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.
Those who know that I can interpret dreams have been contacting me during the last few weeks to ask me to give them an explanation for some weird dreams they have been having.
One day last week, a woman called me about a strange dream she had. I immediately interpreted it for her. Later that same night, I heard a segment about dreams on CNN. It was exactly what I had told the lady who called. me. I am glad my report came before I heard what CNN had to say, so I would not be influenced by it. I am also glad that my report was exactly in line with what the commentators had to say.
No doubt, COVID-19 is causing people to experience dreams different from the ones they have had in the past. Let's explore some of the reasons our dreams have recently been more intense, vivid and very different.
Changes in Our Lives
Life has changed for many people around the world. Things have changed about how we travel, shop, visit our doctors, eat at restaurants, and how we socialize. So, it is no wonder that our dreams have also changed.
An influx of vivid dreams is caused by lifestyle changes during the day. The new rhythms we now have including what time we get up or whether we can be with our family and friends can influence our circadian rhythm because there is a big change that we have never experienced before.
The coronavirus crisis has led millions of people to endure increased stress and anxiety during the day which culminates in negative dreams at night. Some people have described dreams that feel real about their own death, death of family members and people they know.
More than 600 people in just one study say they are having unusual dreams during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Our lives have changed, and that includes the way we dream and the themes of our dreams.
Hundreds of millions of people are on lockdown at home in almost every state of the United States and countries around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some dream experts say the withdrawals from our usual surroundings and away from people certainly have a major impact on our dreams. That's because what a dreamer encounters during his waking hours influences his subconscious mind to draw conclusions based on those happenings.
Common Dream Symbols
Our dreams are connected to what is going on in our waking lives. Therefore, it stands to reason that our night visions have also changed. We are not around the same people or doing the same things as we have been accustomed to doing.
There have always been dream symbols in everybody's dreams even before COVID-19. Some common dream symbols include:
- missing a bus
- missing a class
- getting lost
The above common themes combined with new COVID-19 themes are causing concern for some dreamers.
Common Coronavirus Dreams
Since we have coronavirus stressors while we are awake, they also show up in our dreams. We are kept up to date about the spread of the virus and the impact it is having on our wellbeing. We can't escape it. We hear about it on the radio. It is at the top of the news on television. We read about it on social media. Our families, friends, and neighbors are constantly talking about it. Therefore, the news fills our thoughts every single day, and we can't shut it out even when we attempt to get a good night's sleep.
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Everybody's dreams are different, but most of us have the same common COVID-19 symbols that prove that we are in this altogether even while we sleep.
Common Coronavirus Dream Themes
- Fear of getting the virus.
- Fear of spreading the virus to others.
- Fear of family and friends catching it.
- Worried about being tested.
- Fear of not being tested.
- Worried about social distancing and isolation.
- Fear of dying and dying alone.
- Afraid family members or friends will die.
- Afraid someone will come closer than 6 feet.
- Afraid of missing the symptoms.
- Fear of losing jobs.
- Afraid of the Apocalypse.
- Afraid of your dog or cat will get the virus.
- Fear of running out of food and toilet paper.
Nightmares can be warning signs of stress and anxieties that people experience during the day. However, pent-up thoughts come alive in dreams at night. Those thoughts and feelings present themselves in dreams disguised by symbols and metaphors that are more pronounced and turn out to be nightmares.
In order not to have nightmares, we should control what happens to us during our waking moments. Our thoughts, beliefs, and events of the day influence what we dream about at night. In fact, a slide show is created for us to view as we dream. Being careful what comes into our minds during the day will have a great impact on what we dream about at night. Therefore, it is very important to be selective about what gets into our consciousness during the time we are awake.
What Dream Experts Say
Most dream experts around the world agree on some of the same things even though they explain it in different ways. They mostly agree that pandemic dreams are being caused by stress, isolation, changes in lifestyle and sleep patterns.
An ongoing study done by the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France in March 2020, showed that the coronavirus pandemic has caused a very high percentage relating to the coronavirus. More negative dreams than usual were reported.
A study done by the Italian Association of Sleep Medicine reported that many of its subjects experienced post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms associated with the coronavirus.
Studies show that first responders, health-care workers, those living in epicenters, and people with affected family members are more likely to experience more disturbing dreams.
A dream survey conducted by Deirdre Leigh Barrett, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, agrees with other dream experts. She confirms that vivid dreams are increasing as the virus has spread around the world. She says this phenomenon is not unprecedented, and she cites the tragedy of 9/11 as a good example.
The events of 9/11 changed the way people dreamed for a certain time right after the attacks. Later, the dreams returned to normal. The impact of dreams caused by the coronavirus pandemic might last longer because it has personally impacted almost everyone on earth. The deaths happened all at once instead of being ongoing. Also, the deaths associated with this pandemic has already far surpassed those who died on September 11, 2001.
Your Sleep Pattern
Poor sleep quality can be blamed for some of the disturbing dreams and nightmares. Studies have shown that the better we sleep, the less likely we are to have bad dreams.
Research has also shown that increased stress and anxiety during the day will surely lead to some bizarre dreams. That's because our brains get loaded with all sorts of things we have seen and heard during the day.
To help get a more restful night’s sleep, experts offer the following advice:
- Try consuming less stressful information.
- Spend some time outdoors.
- Get some exercise.
- Avoid alcohol and self-medicating.
- Maintain a good diet.
Experts say our sleep schedule and dreams will return to their regular patterns when we go back to regular routines we had before COVID-19.
There are several things you should know if you are having unusual strange and vivid dreams that might frighten you.
- The COVID-19 dreams you might be having are normal. They are caused by a change in your lifestyle brought on by social distancing and isolation.
- You are not alone. Almost everyone is having similar dreams. Some people might say they don't dream, but everyone dreams. It is just that some people don't remember their dreams. A person cannot live without dreaming.
- Minimize the amount of news you hear during the day. Some of the events are repeated over and over and are stored in your consciousness.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on April 22, 2020:
Lou, what you have described is coronavirus lockdown related. The dreams might not be about the pandemic itself. Instead, they are about the lockdown with dreams symbolic of what you have described. Hopefully, the pandemic will be over soon and we can resume our usual activities including being outdoors again. Be safe!
Lou Tenant from Somewhere in America on April 22, 2020:
Very informative. I’ve had some more vivid dreams recently, nothing related to covid fears or anything stressful, but just totally random stuff. Probably due to being stuck at home and my mind just thinking about stuff to do outdoors.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on April 21, 2020:
Tim, thank you for reading and commenting on my article. As usual, you have added something positive to enhance it.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on April 21, 2020:
Great article, Margaret. Psychologists have long held dreams are a direct response to stresses during a given period, and thank you for reminding readers of that fact. However, interestingly enough, you hit on another point: God gives us all individualized gifts and talents, and you helped your friend by using yours precisely. Respect and admiration to a prolific and informative writer.