If you've been finding yourself having increasingly weirder and weirder dreams you should probably know that you are not alone in experiencing this. In fact, this same phenomenon seems to be affecting a great number of people ever since the pandemic started back in march of 2020.
And now that COVID-19 tier restrictions have been put into place to help contain the virus, coupled with post Christmas blues and the ever-growing uncertainty of the future ahead, there seems to be a pattern that interweaves all three aforementioned factors.
COVID-19 related stress is mostly to blame
But why exactly is this happening to us? NYC based psychologist, Courtney Bancroft, reveals having been increasingly contacted by patients in search of meaning behind bizarre and recurring dreams. She explains that:
When we see heightened levels of stress, we often see heightened levels of vivid dreams happening. Our brains get flooded with all sorts of neurotransmitters and chemicals, like adrenaline and epinephrine. When they're activated, even if it's during the day, it can actually remain present while you're sleeping, and that can interrupt the regular sleep cycle a bit and cause those vivid dreams."
In other words, the stress generated by all the intensity we experience during our waking life gets 'trapped' in our subconscious and later manifests itself in the form of vivid and bizarre dreams. She added:
If you're experiencing higher levels of stress, your ability to let your guard down and sleep normally or deeply gets impaired. Your brain is trying to keep you alert, and this is where people might have difficulty falling asleep - or more intense stress dreams.
Our circadian rhythm has also been compromised
The fact that we are forced to stay at home and, as a result, absorb less daylight is also a reason for why sleep patterns have changed so drastically for some people. Colin A Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Oxford University, believes that daylight is used to train our 24-hour body clock which is why, during lockdown, people have reported feeling groggy in the morning and more tired throughout the day.
According to Dr. Espie, this is also a contributing factor in the resurgence of weird dreams experienced by many at the moment:
People are getting less daylight and not getting up as early. That loss of light and change of habit allows the body clock to drift and can lead to a sense of malaise