coronavirus

COVID-19 Pandemic Could Be Impacting Your Dreams

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, dream researchers found dreamers caught in bizarre scenarios related to fears of the virus. Now, dreamers' thoughts have shifted the secondary effects of the pandemic.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The stresses of the coronavirus pandemic might be impacting your sleep and it's also likely affecting your dreams.

From bizarre to euphoric, researchers said people's dreams are all over the map -- and for good reason.

At the start of the pandemic, wild, vivid dreams seemed to plague people's sleep.

Harvard researchers doing a coronavirus dream study asked dreamers to fill out an online survey and found people's COVID-19 fears had morphed into bizarre scenarios during their slumber, like fighting off giant bug-like creatures or coming face to face with strange beings.

"I've just seen dozens and dozens and dozens of every kind of bug in the world attacking the dreamers!" said Harvard psychologist and dream researcher Dr. Dierdre Barrett in an interview with NBC 5 in May.

Now, two months later, Barrett said the dreams are shifting to the secondary effects of the pandemic.

In her online survey, people reported dreaming about financial stress or going back to work or home school.

One dreamer described a scenario in which she was told she'd have to teach the whole class, according to Barrett.

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"The school messaged her and told her they were sending the entire class to her home and that she had to homeschool the whole class," Barrett said.

The anxiety dreams feel more frequent because more Americans are getting more sleep compared to pre-pandemic times.

Another common theme right now is what life will be like after the pandemic.

Some dreams are apocalyptic while others are euphoric.

Oddly, enough, she said, people are dreaming more frequently about dolphins and whales, which can symbolize encouragement,

"The whales had learned to fly. They were swooping through the sky, like gigantic, fast, graceful blimps in the air," Barrett said.

There are simple self-interpretation techniques to help decode your dream, as Barrett writes in her new book "Pandemic Dreams," like talking about it with a group of friends.

You could re-program your dreams by thinking of something you want in your dreams as you drift off to sleep," Barrett suggested.

Regardless, you can rest easy, or sleep easy, knowing you're not alone with weird dreams.

Pandemic dreams are a definite sign of the times.

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