Is COVID-19 Infecting Your Dreams?

It’s safe to say that the coronavirus has ruined everything. Not only has it wrecked the global economy and left hundreds of thousands dead, but now it’s messing with our dreams, too.

Experts confirmed that there’s a reason so many of us are having strange dreams. Here’s what they’re saying–and how you can start having better, more restful sleep.

Coronavirus Pandemic Dreams

It’s not just you. Thousands of people are reporting weirder-than-usual dreams, including recurrent nightmares. From anecdotal social media posts to actual studies conducted by researchers, it’s clear that the virus is messing with our minds.

The effect of the pandemic on dreams is twofold. First, most of us are experiencing increased levels of anxiety. Even if you’re lucky enough to still have your job and your health, this is a majorly stressful time. That anxiety and stress manifests in your dreams as nightmares.

You can–and should–use techniques for coping with anxiety. Those include deep breathing, meditation, and practicing gratitude. It’s also a good idea to clean up your diet and get some light exercise, such as walking, but c’mon–there’s a pandemic. We’re all sitting on our couches eating ice cream.

The other issue affecting our dreams is social distancing. Simply put, we have less fuel for our subconscious to use during REM sleep. The isolation and lack of stimuli, combined with real-world fears about the virus, is a perfect storm of nightmare fodder.

Dream Omens: Interpreting Your Coronavirus Nightmares

Erin Gravely started “I Dream of Covid” as a place for people to share their coronavirus dreams. It’s a fascinating project that sheds light on the kinds of things we’re dreaming about. Many people are dreaming about death and destruction, while other dream of finding a cure for the virus.

But for some, the anxieties of the pandemic come out in unexpected ways. Dreams of being surrounded by enemies–sometimes bugs, other times wild animals or even zombies–speak to the stress of the virus sweeping the globe. Other people dream of being trapped outdoors in a storm, struggling to find their way to shelter.

Now might be an interesting time to pick up a dream interpretation guide. People have studied the symbolism of dreams for millennia. Sigmund Freud was fascinated with them. So were ancient soothsayers and mystics, who believed that dreams held prophecies and omens.

We can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to read your future in dreams. However, the signs and symbols can help you understand–and, hopefully, cope with–your fears.

Tips for Lucid Dreaming

If you want to reprogram your dreams to be less weird and stressful, try these tips for lucid dreaming. This technique involves training yourself to be aware that you are dreaming–and taking control of the dream.

  • Make your bedroom REM friendly by making your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. Blackout curtains and a white noise machine can help.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at a regular time and creating a peaceful routine to get yourself ready for sleep.
  • Write down your dreams first thing in the morning using a journal or an app. Focus on finding patterns in your dreams, especially those that trigger feelings of anxiety.
  • Try repeating a key phrase before you fall asleep, such as “I know the difference between dreams and real life.” It’s surprisingly effective!
  • Develop a cue to shut down or redirect nightmares. For example, you might rub your hands together or click your fingers to tell your sleeping brain that it’s time to change tracks.
  • Practice! Lucid dreaming takes time to master. Don’t get frustrated if it’s not easy when you first start.