Having Weird Dreams a Lot Lately? I Am, Too!
I have been having a lot of weird dreams over the last few nights. At first, I was quick to link it to the new over the counter diet pills I’ve been taking for the first time. Then, I did a bit of googling and as it turns out, I’m not alone. The pandemic has been making everyone have weird dreams. I guess it seems to come in waves – just like the spread.
My Weird Dreams Aren’t Nightmares
I feel very fortunate. A lot of reports I’ve read and people I’ve talked to have said they’ve struggled with nightmares. Bugs seem to play a starring role in them. I wouldn’t be pleased with that at all.
Mine are just very strange. I feel confused or lost or baffled the entire time. There are quite a few fantastical elements as well. Even the things that would be horrific in reality are rather tame in my weird dreams.
Why Are We Dreaming So Strangely?
As far as I can tell, we really are all having weird dreams either all the time or over segments of time due to the pandemic. I came across the work of a researcher from Brown University named Jeff Huang who collected data from over 100,000 sleep app users worldwide. What he’s discovered is that beyond anxiety and insomnia patterns disturbing people’s sleep since the start of the pandemic, our dreams really are getting stranger and more memorable. More people are sleeping longer and later since the pandemic got started. This surprised me.
My hours have remained around the same, but my mind is definitely telling me some odd stories and I’m remembering them more than normal.
The Pandemic and Weird Dreams
The trend was strongest during the first few months after the pandemic spread around the world. Areas experiencing lockdowns saw some measurable shifts. North Americans like me were sleeping in an average of 45 minutes later. I suppose that is partially explained by people working from home and not needing to get up as early to commute or being laid off or otherwise experiencing changes in when they need to be up and going. Russians apparently slept an hour and a half later, though in Sweden they slept only 15 minutes later on average.
According to the researchers I was reading about, even a 15-minute average change in sleep patterns means we’re waking up at different times in our sleep patterns. Where we may have been in a deep or light sleep at our usual waking time, the pandemic has allowed many of us to slide back into REM just as we’re ready to get up.
What explains the weird dreams themselves? I’d guess that we’re all rather disrupted, worried, and feeling a lot of feelings these days. Maybe our dreams have always been this strange, but we just didn’t remember them because we didn’t wake up in the middle of them.