Has anyone else been having vivid dreams lately?
I’ve heard so many people talk about how since the start of lockdown, they have been having more dreams than usual. Google Trends (2020) reported that in the US, the number of Google searches for ‘weird dreams’ has doubled since this time last year, suggesting that not only are people dreaming more often, but they can remember them when they wake up.
Not only are vivid dreams increasing, but so are mental health struggles. The United Nations have said that due to the poverty, anxiousness, isolation, bereavement, and illness that COVID-19 is bringing, a mental health crisis could happen (Routers News Agency, 2020). This is already being made apparent in the referrals to mental health services – Harmless and the Tomorrow Project have received a 200% increase in referrals.
Here’s how these two things could relate to each other.
Researchers have found that dreaming could function as a way to regulate emotions (Scarpelli et al., 2019). Struggling with our mental health often results in excessive negative emotions, such as sadness, anger, confusion, anxiety, or grief. Large numbers of us are currently experiencing these emotions in response to the pandemic. So in theory, an increase of these emotions could be the cause of an increase in dreaming. The reason why we’re all having so many “weird dreams” could be due to our brain trying to cope with the many intense emotions we’re feeling at the moment.
But, why do we still feel so tired?
When we enter REM sleep (the stage of sleep in which we dream), our brain waves are almost as active as when we are awake (Purves et al., 2001). Our heart rates also increase, as does our breathing. This means that we may not feel rested when we wake up after having a lot of REM sleep and vivid dreams.
Hopefully that answers some questions that you might have been having lately about weird dreams! If all the emotions you’re feeling right now are getting to be too much, resulting in feeling suicidal, then please be reassured that the Tomorrow Project are here for you. We aren’t going anywhere.
Suicide Crisis Support Officer
Google Trends. (2020). https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=weird%20dreams&geo=US
Purves, D., Augustine, G. J., Fitzpatrick, D., Katz, L. C., LaMantia, A. S., McNamara, J. O., & Williams, S. M. (2001). Sleep and Wakefulness. Neuroscience. 2nd Edition. Sunderland, MA: Sinnauer Associates Inc, 26.
Reuters News Agency (2020). Health Experts Warn of COVID-19 mental health crisis. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/14/health-experts-warn-covid-19-mentalhealth-crisis/
Scarpelli, S., Bartolacci, C., D’Atri, A., Gorgoni, M., & De Gennaro, L. (2019). The functional role of dreaming in emotional processes. Frontiers in psychology, 10.