It's been almost a month and a half since I've been working from home owing to the coronavirus pandemic, and things are not as fun as I had imagined them to be. Most days, I barely wake up 20 minutes before I start working, I eat at erratic hours, any semblance of structure has been thrown out the window and my regular sleep cycle has gone for a toss. Somedays, I veer towards productivity and discipline. On other days, I couldn't care less. When nothing around me is making sense, why should I pretend to have it all together? And as I slowly become accustomed to a new normal of zoom happy hours, baking marathons, 2 am panic attacks and sanitising veggies (?!!), I've noticed a worrying pattern--I've been having intense, bizarre dreams. Once, I found myself in a maze-like tunnel and was struggling to find my way out. Another time, I remember being repeatedly stabbed by someone I knew as my family looked on. I always wake up in a pool of sweat with my heart pounding.
If you're reading this and thinking--girl, same--then you're not alone. Turns out, several people have reported having such intense nightmares ever since the coronavirus pandemic has had us cooped up in our homes. Recently, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, Deirdre Leigh Barrett, conducted a dream survey. And the findings of the survey seems to confirm that the incidence of vivid dreams has increased as the virus has spread around the world.
And yes, coronavirus is the reason behind yet another problem in your life. But fret not--these dreams are not a prophecy about the future or a sign of doom. Here's what experts believe could be behind your recent bizarre dreams.
Scientifically, dreams are our mind's way of subconsciously communicating with us. And when we're anxious, our subconscious goes into overdrive and responds with several anxiety-inducing scenarios. According to experts, what we're going through right now is a form of collective trauma--there isn't a single person on this planet who isn't affected by this pandemic in some way or another. We think that we are able to escape from our anxieties before going to bed, but the truth is that we only pass on our anxiety to our subconscious mind, which then plays out a series of anxious events in response.
Since we've been confined to our homes for almost two months, it's hard to hold on to a sense of structure when your daily routine doesn't apply anymore. Pre-coronavirus, most of us would wake up, have a morning routine, a commute to work, a lunch hour, happy hours with colleagues, and catching up with the family after a long day. Now, the distinction between weekdays and weekends no longer exists and sometimes we can't even tell what day of the week it is. Since we have nowhere to be the next day, a lot of us end up sleeping too early or too late, too little or too much. Either way, this erratic sleep schedule leads to disturbed sleep, which leads to...you guessed it, vivid dreams.
Boredom could also be one of the contributing factors to your recent nightmare nuisance. If you think about it, we're basically stuck in a loop, repeating the same day over and over again. But not only are we bored during our waking hours, this boredom is also spilling into our subconscious, which seems to be digging deeper and deeper for any new stimuli.
Okay, so we now know what's causing our crazy dreams. But the question is, how can we deal with them? There's no one-stop solution to this problem, and experts are offering varied advice. The most sensible thing to do would be to try to get some sort of structure back into your life. Besides that, a regular sleep cycle would definitely help. And if none of those work for you, maintaining a dream journal and analysing them can also be a fun activity.