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Coronavirus Dreams: Why Quarantine Has Nightmares

Perhaps at the next week quarantine you notice that you can see a strange, interesting and incredibly colorful dreams – or simply collided with insomnia and disorders of sleep. And then, and another – the signs of stress, which is now exposed to a lot of people at the same time. We will tell you how sleep and dreaming disorders are related to the COVID-19 pandemic and whether something can be done about it right now.               

The situation in which the world finds itself is unique for most of those living in it. Novelty and fear of the unknown (in respect of not only health, but also, for example, the work or the ability to pay for housing) can lead to anxiety, depression and, among other signs of stress, disorders of sleep. Most often it is insomnia – that is, difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakening, inability to fall asleep again, but there is also a reverse reaction – hypersomnia, when you want to sleep constantly.                

Experts say this may be due to a fight-or-flight response . Although the enemy is invisible without an electron microscope, and the main recommendation is to stay at home, stress-related processes force the body to mobilize, and therefore, to stay awake. Continuous reading of the news adds stress, and the glowing phone screen (if you read on it before bed) additionally tunes the nervous system to the fact that night has not yet come.           

In many and there was a shift of the usual mode, sometimes conscious. For example, if it is difficult to concentrate in the noise during the day , a person starts working at night when loved ones go to bed; this leads to ragged sleep in the daytime, in the light and all the same annoying noise. Lack of physical activity and walking does not allow you to spend energy normally, and in combination with the fact that it is easy to start overeating from boredom, the body simply does not get tired enough.                

Colorful dreams

In Google dramatically increased the number of requests , “why do I see strange dreams», «COVID-19 Dreams”, “coronavirus dreams.” During periods of stress, chemical processes in the brain can provoke realistic dreams and nightmares – you may have already experienced this during a session at university or in another stressful situation. Now many people experience stress at once, therefore, unusual dreams are noted more and more often.               

Dreams are thought to arise because the brain processes emotions and events; in the period of sleep with rapid eye movement (rapid eye movement, REM) occurs something like “harvesting” when the brain classifies the memories of the passing day and preparing them for long-term storage. Considering background anxiety and tense memories (and they can be, even if you don’t leave the house, but, for example, watch the news), the likelihood of strange and scary dreams increases.               

Finally, we remember what we saw in a dream only if we woke up in time: if after the dreaming phase you sleep for some more time, the next morning you are unlikely to remember something. Insomnia, disturbed regime, noise lead to the fact that we wake up more often – which means that we remember what we saw. According to scientists from the Center for Neuroscience in Lyon, France, people are 35% more likely to remember their dreams.             

Several groups of scientists, including those in England, France and the United States, began to study the situation . The i dream of covid website has appeared , where everyone can share the content of their dreams (you can do it anonymously). Italian scientists reported that the changes in dreams are most pronounced in health workers, those who live in the epicenters of outbreaks, and those whose loved ones have been affected by COVID-19. According to them , after the earthquake in the city ​​of L’Aquila in 2009 , the map of vivid dreams coincided with the map of seismic activity – that is, the higher the stress, the more noticeably the dreams changed . However, the lack of experience in the can also be the cause of brilliant dreams during the day – it is how to make the brain to look for the deeper memories.                           

What can be done:

 Try to fix the regime. Now this is difficult and everything contributes to chaos, but come up with at least one rule for yourself – for example, go to bed no later than twelve – and try to follow it.       

 Move just a little. We talked about the rules of nutrition and sports in quarantine and published, for example, such a selection of video workouts. Now is not the time to set records; your task is not to lose weight and not even maintain activity at the same level (sitting at home this is unlikely to work), but to unload the psyche, stretch your body and get a little tired so that you sleep better.                  

 Create a relaxation ritual. Apply a mask, lie with your eyes closed in a cool room, listen to music – whatever, just leave your phone, tablet and computer in another room.      

 Be careful with caffeine and alcohol. Out of boredom and a lost sense of time, it’s easy to start drinking at lunchtime or stop counting cups of coffee. Lack of pleasant experiences makes you look for something tasty, including in the form of drinks. But , and caffeine and alcohol act on the nervous system, and it is now well be left in peace.                

 Talk to your doctor about pharmacological care. Nowadays, many clinics offer online consultations, and if insomnia is a serious concern, you should discuss it with your doctor. You may be prescribed, for example, melatonin to help improve your daily cycle, or an anxiety medication that can help you sleep well.      

 Remember that this is temporary: the quarantine will end, walks and sports will return , loved ones will disperse to schools and offices, and sleep will return. Don’t make a disaster out of insomnia – it’s better to keep an interesting book by your bed.

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