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Covid-19: Has it infected our dreams?

Politics

Covid-19: Has it infected our dreams?

COVID has changed everything, including many of our dreams.

An Axios-Ipsos poll released March 9th shows that one in three Americans have experienced strange or vivid dreams in the past month, with fewer than 10% of those being directly COVID-19 related.

“It was like the zombie apocalypse but slower, calmer.”

This excerpt is from one of hundreds of often vivid COVID-related dreams submitted to the i dream of covid website since it launched a year ago.

Frontiers, a peer-reviewed, open science journal, published a study in October 2020 examining dream content during the pandemic and evaluating how it affected people’s dreams and nightmares. It found 26% of those studied experienced nightmares.

Everyone dreams, even if they do not remember doing so.

Experts state that nightmares and recurring dreams may be how we work out stressful waking experiences. And some research has shown increased nightmare activity is related to trauma. So, what exactly are people dreaming about? And, could it clue us into what anxieties are circulating among the population?

Kelly Bulkeley of the Sleep and Dream Database partnered with Michael Schredl of the Central Institute of Mental Health to conduct a scientific survey analyzing dreaming during the pandemic.

Out of those experiencing COVID-related dreams, about a third were related to pandemic control measures such as social distancing and wearing masks. Roughly another third were about being sick, or a loved one being sick. The final group of dream content was not directly related to the actual virus, but rather “other” topics. One example presented in the “other” section was a dream about the president not having urgency to face the pandemic and leaving people sick or dying.

So, is it simply that we are stressed, and we’re dreaming about what stresses us?

In short, yes. And, some of these dreams are wildly elaborate.

Some dreams posted to i dream of covid sound like bizarre science fiction movies:  “In my dream, the virus Covid19 was not an infectious pathogen, but an organized group of people—like some sort of sinister army. The overarching idea of the dream was to evade capture by this group.”

An entire year has gone by with COVID affecting our every waking hour. Now we know it’s invaded our non-waking time, as well, with pandemic fever dreams play out in our sleep

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Astrea Slezak. 

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