Dreams in the time of Covid-19...
Weird dreams are yet another 'side effect' of the pandemic.
Dreams can tell us so much about our unconscious - what's really going on 'inside' our minds and not just individual minds but bizarrely the 'collective unconscious' too (Carl Jung).
Dreams of being 'contaminated' or testing positive speak to our deepest rooted anxieties - not just our fear that we too might 'catch' it but more our dread at realising we are neither immortal nor untouchable.
The quality of dreams may seem different too - more vivid and offering a better panoramic experience than usual. Like the sky we look up to and the air we breathe in our waking lives, they may now seem clearer and less muddied.
The vivid nature of the dreams may be the result of the emotional and physical chaos many of us are experiencing right now. We know that the limbic system — parts of the brain involved in behavioural and emotional responses, are activated during dreams that are highly bizarre or emotional.
Of course there are many variations in dream experiences, not least because where some are finding themselves restless and unable to sleep*, others are managing to have really deep sleeps, which can sometimes make dream recollection harder.
Some people might be experiencing rather boring dream scenarios - perhaps for these people their unconscious is hankering after the normality and routine they are missing from their lives right now.
Here are just a few dream theories:
1. The continuity theory of dreams - people dream about the stuff they’re thinking about and doing while they’re awake. Therefore if we feel stressed about the pandemic, it is likely we will have a stress related dream
2. Functional purpose of dreams - some believe dreams prepare us for difficult or challenging situations when we awake. So in our dreams we work out a problem we might be having
3. Dreams as predictors of future mental health - others believe that if you're having difficulties in your waking life, dreams can give you insight into your future mental health
It is perhaps not surprising that we would have stressful dreams about the pandemic as we try to work through the situation and prepare ourselves emotionally for the future.
Whether you believe in dreams having hidden meanings or not, it is clear that there is a link between what happens in our conscious waking life and what we dream about when our unconscious kicks in. What might your unconscious be telling you?
*If you are finding sleep difficult, do try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule and *where possible* take a short 30 minute nap during the day.