The mystery of vivid dreams during a pandemic

Coronavirus

MYSTERY WIRE — Maybe you’ve noticed that ever since the news of the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, people started talking about having extremely vivid dreams. It’s something you might of seen pop up on social media, but there really is something happening here.

The leading theory as to why it is happening might go against your initial thinking. According to Robert Bosnak, a psychoanalyst and past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, his theory is that all this remembered dreaming “has to do with strong activation of the limbic system governing dread and rage.”

There are five phases of sleep, and dreaming is most likely to happen during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase. A 2010 study found that vivid, bizarre, and emotionally intense dreams (the dreams that people usually remember) are linked to parts of the amygdala and hippocampus.

But experts are split as to whether people are actually having more vivid dreams or if they’re dreaming just as much but sleeping lighter leading to remembering more of your dreams even in normal times.

Instyle.com reported on a survey of nearly 1,000 adults conducted by the website Sleephelp.org. This study found that 22% reported worse sleep quality during the coronavirus quarantine, because of fears or stress about COVID-19.

Michael Grandner, director of the University of Arizona’s sleep and health research program, told insider.com two factors are likely at play. The first has to do with the brain’s role in learning, emotion processing, and memory formation. 

Dreams are our brains’ processing and organizing and integrating and making sense of things. We’re dumped in this new environment and we’re trying to figure out our place in it.”

Michael Grandner, Dir. Univ. of Arizona’s sleep & health research program

Grandner also speculates more people are remembering dreams currently because more people are working from home. And quite often people working at home are sleeping longer than before because they don’t have to deal with a commute. He told insider.com about sleeping and dreaming more, “Before, we stopped the movie before we got to the interesting part. Now, we might not be doing that.”

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