Around the globe, increasing numbers of people have reported that they’re having strange, vivid dreams about the current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus.
From wrapping one’s self in toilet paper to giant snakes on the ceiling, the pandemic is painting pictures in peoples’ minds due to the anxiety and uncertainty which comes with living through significant events. As Time notes, changes in daily routines and patterns of activity can also contribute to feelings of stress, which can influence nightmares.
Stress and anxiety can cause strange dreams and insomnia, and there’s plenty of those going around with COVID-19. Several dream-tracking research projects have reported the conflation of hugging or other close contact with danger—on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Working from home or not working at all can cause disruption to routine, leaving people feeling uneasy about what’s to come. Other changes to living situations, such as staying with family or living alone, can also contribute to stressful sleep.
Quartz reports mental healthcare experts are referring to the stress experienced during the coronavirus pandemic as a “collective trauma,” and for some, it’s the first time they’ve encountered it. Common responses to trauma include sleep disturbances, as well as depression and insomnia.
How can I sleep better?
Outside of seeking out mental healthcare, there are some ways to mitigate the effects of stress and anxiety on sleep. Maintaining a schedule and eating well can help create a sense of normalcy, and exercise can use up nervous energy. Other methods of relaxing that might be effective for the reduction of anxiety could be aromatherapy, establishing a nighttime routine to wind down, or minimizing screen time before bed.