For the last couple of months my sleeping patterns have changed dramatically. I find that I wake up often, interrupting a sense of having what I consider to be a good sleep. But what is more pronounced are the presence of vivid dreams, many of which I actually can remember to tell about.
In regards to these dreams, I am apparently far from alone.
Changes in sleep patterns and dreaming could be due to the Covid-19 crisis amid lockdowns and anxiety associated with the presence of the virus reports NewScientist.
According to a survey conducted by King's College London, they identified 3 groups consisting of "Accepting", "Suffering" and "Resisting". 62% of all respondents reported they were getting just as much sleep or more than usual since the beginning of the pandemic. More sleep enables a person to have rapid eye movement sleep (REM), the sleep stage that allows dreams. Because of this, dream time, as well as dream recall has increased.
The study suggests that modern life, up until the pandemic, means shortened sleep which may have caused another epidemic...dream loss. For many of us that may very well be changing due to lack of work schedules and waking up to alarm clocks, allowing natural wake ups and longer sleeps which contribute to REM sleep.
At the same time, those of us who are experiencing anxiety, wake up more often, waking us during REM sleep so we are more likely to remember our dreams.
Mark Blagrove, a psychologist at Swansea University, UK. says, “Our dreams are more likely to incorporate memories from recent waking life that are emotional,” which affects the content and tone of our dreams.
I've also noticed that many of the dreams I've been having have not been pleasant. According to Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, says “After 9/11, many New Yorkers reported dreams of being overwhelmed by a tidal wave or being attacked and robbed.”
So what can we do about this?
Studies have shown us that it is beneficial to talk to others about our dreams, even to keep a journal telling about them. According to Foster, “Don’t worry about your dreams. Take comfort in the fact that your brain is doing what it should be doing.”