TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many people. Stress, anxiety, depression and even anger have proven to be common results of the pandemic. While we can pinpoint these feelings while awake, we may not realize the impact they have in our sleep.
Pandemic dreams or ‘quarandreams’ are not rare. Doctors with the University of Kansas Health System say it’s not uncommon for your experiences during the day to follow you into your dreams.
“Depending on what you’re experience is with this pandemic, it will be reflected in your dreams,” explained Dr. Suzanne Stevens, Neurologist.
Dr. Stevens is the Director of the Sleep Medicine Clinic at the University of Kansas Health System. She says, during a time like this, your dreams are very telling. Health care workers may have very realistic dreams of battling the coronavirus.
“They are undergoing trauma, psychological trauma from what they see everyday,” said Dr. Stevens. “So their dreams tend to reflect more of their reality.”
Non-health care workers may have two different types of dreams. One is dreaming of being in trouble or being locked up. This can be linked to the need to stay at home in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Lock down dreams where people feel like they’ve done something wrong and they can’t leave their home and they want to escape,” explained Dr. Stevens.
Another common type of dream that people may be experiencing during this time is being chased by something, like zombies or some kind of invisible threat. Dr. Stevens says there isn’t much information on dreams from previous pandemics, but dreams were recorded after the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima, Japan. Dr. Stevens says the victims of the attacks had similar dreams.
“A lot of them were about this invisible enemy, like they were worried about the radiation, this invisible enemy; and that’s a very common theme today as well,” added Dr. Stevens. “So I think it depends on what perspective you’re coming from.”
To limit anxiety and bad dreams, doctors recommend:
- Maintaining a health sleep schedule
- Refrain from eating at least an hour before bed
- Limit screen time before going to sleep
- If you do wake up, don’t get up and walk around or watch TV, try and fall back asleep
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