MYSTERY WIRE — Have you had any strange dreams lately? If so, you’re not alone. All over the world people report having weird, vivid dreams and say they are remembering more of the details. Many of the dreams involve feelings of fear and dread, but others feature celebrities, aliens, monsters, or dead relatives.
Social scientists investigating the global explosion of vivid and unusual dreams think it is likely tied to our collective anxiety caused by the coronavirus and social distancing. Dream researchers say there has been a spike in the number of nightmares, as well as lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is aware of being in a dream state.
We asked people to share some of their vivid dreams, and the response was wide-ranging. Here are some examples sent in to Mystery Wire:
Nevada attorney turned Fox News analyst Bob Massi passed away more than a year ago, but he (and his hair) are still making appearances, at least in the dreams of one Las Vegas woman.
David in California wrote he was playing a board game two nights ago with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. He says he caught Cuomo cheating but Cuomo wouldn’t admit it. Cuomo, who is recovering from the coronavirus, has been having his own weird dreams. One starred his brother, the governor of New York, wearing a ballet outfit and carrying a magic wand.
Lex Lonehood wrote the book Nightmareland and is a webmaster for Coast to Coast AM. Mystery Wire spoke with him about this vivid dream phenomena. “The Lyon Neuroscience Center that’s been tracking people’s dreams since March has seen both an uptick in dream recall and nightmarish type dreams,” Lonehood told us. “And also in Italy, they’ve been doing some research at a national sleep center and they found kind of an uptick in para-somnia and unusual sleep states.”
Lonehood’s book, Nightmareland, focuses on the netherworld of sleep and dreams. It came out just prior to the pandemic. In the months since, there has been an explosion of media articles about pandemic-related wild dreams and why so many of us are remembering greater details the next day. Lonehood has also written articles about pandemic dreams for Medium.
The experts say it’s a reaction to stress and isolation, a warning from our unconscious about threats, danger, and loneliness. What happens in our waking lives always affects our sleep states.
“I think that we are legitimately being influenced in our dreams from our daily experiences,” Lonehood told Mystery Wire, “and this is just such an earth shaking experience for many people, particularly people on the front lines that are dealing with working in hospitals, they seem to be more likely to have nightmares and PTSD type experiences.”
Medical professionals confirmed as much to us. Tanya is a Nevada nurse who volunteered to work on the front lines in New York City, “I’ve had multiple nightmares since I’ve been here,” she wrote, “the other nurses are also having nightmares. They’re pretty much the same. We wake up feeling like the virus is running through our veins and we’re scared.”
Daniel, also a nurse, told us, “Dreamt I was at work as usual on the COVID side of the E.R. It was just another day, not fun. Woke up relieved I was not there.”
Celeyna dreamed she was asleep in a freezer and when she awoke, she was 85-years-old and everyone she knew was dead. Lonehood says dream experts at Harvard told him dreams can be a way to process our emotions, including fear.
Several people told us about dream encounters with creatures, insects, aliens. and celebrities. Ian wrote, “I was looking at houses in an expensive neighborhood, knocked on one door, and Dustin Hoffman answered it. We ended up talking about UFOs.”
Claire wrote that her 6-year-old woke up frightened, “She saw wooden ballerinas with no faces who were trying to get her.”
Audrey in Spokane has never been able to fly in her dreams, now, she’s getting instructions from someone in her dreams. “I was like levitating and at first I was on a beige pillow and was able to get it up. Someone was coaching me how to do it.”
Kristian was talking to a departed grandma, “I was stressed about corona and she just came to say everything is going to be okay.”
At a time when real life feels like a bad dream, it’s no wonder people say their dreams seem more vivid than their waking lives. Some experts say, go with the flow. with a little practice you might achieve lucid dreaming. “Becoming lucid is a good way to deal with nightmares, particularly like recurring nightmares, where if you recognize that you’re in a dream from within the dream, then you can kind of take your power back,” Lonehood told us.
These vivid quarantine dreams are a hot topic on new sites across the internet. The New York Times recently asked, Why am I having weird dreams lately? And even TIME Magazine wrote about The Science Behind Your Coronavirus Dreams (and Nightmares).
Maybe we all just need to listen to something John Lennon told us years ago, “Stay in bed. Float upstream.”