Coronavirus Pandemic Is Messing With People’s Dreams

April 23, 2020

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — If you’ve been having weird dreams lately, you’re not alone.

In a Harvard University study, 2,000 people described having 5,000 coronavirus-related dreams this month.

While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, people say they don’t want to be dreaming about the pandemic when in quarantine. 

Dr. Carol Ash, a sleep specialist and chief medical officer at RWJBaranabas Health in New Jersey, says the dreams, however, may be helpful.

Dr. Ash tells CBS News dreams are the way our bodies and brains process the experiences of the day.

“Good sleep and dreams – they’re a normal health process. And unfortunately, with all the things we’re dealing with this coronavirus, we’re all going through collective trauma. So, we’re seeing more and more of these vivid dreams, nightmares. It’s not uncommon to have sleep disruption and nightmares during trauma,” she explains. 

She says social distancing is heightening our anxiety, however, and affecting our sense of self. 

“When you disrupt your sleep at night, it activates that part of the brain for protection so you have a greater sense that your space is being violated, so you really don’t want to be around people,” she said. 

But she adds the reality is: “It’s not as bad as we think. We’re gonna get through this.”

Dr. Ash also notes that the pandemic has caused more people to sleep in and therefore, experience dreams for the first time.

“You have more dreams right before you awaken in the morning,” she said. “So, most of us are actually experiencing dreams for the first time, so we’re finding our dreams are more vivid because we really haven’t had the opportunity to get good, quality sleep.”

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