Many people are turning to social media to comment on the phenomenon known as "pandemic dreams,quot;, sharing examples through the hashtag #pandemicdreams.
In my dream, I called an Uber, but a hearse appeared in its place. I don't like these #pandemicdreams 🦠 🙅🏻♀️
– Sarah Schachner (@SarahSchachner) March 23, 2020
They report vivid, often strange and sometimes terrifying dreams that involve fear of death, threats against loved ones, and anxiety associated with self-quarantine.
Requests to stay home force millions to isolate themselves for weeks, store shelves are empty due to hoarding, and employers fire people for lack of customers.
Experts say that the main function of dreams is to process emotions, which for many people have been more intense during the pandemic.
Last night I dreamed that my two daughters were children again and that someone who wanted them would lock them up in the hotel room in a skyscraper. In terror, I took them out of there and installed them in a secret shop in a small green park near the sea. #pandemicdreams
– Dr. Elizabeth Sawin (@bethsawin) March 11, 2020
"Most dreams have anxiety as the primary emotion," Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told The Cut.
Barrett, author of "The Sleep Committee: How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use Their Dreams to Solve Problems Creatively, and How You Can Do It Too,quot;, has been collecting coronavirus dreams in an online survey.
"Changing one's routine dramatically often leads to greater memory of dreams," she says.
The phenomenon of "pandemic dreams,quot; is worrisome because lack of sleep has been linked to increased stress and a weakening of the body's immune system, making us more vulnerable to disease, including the coronavirus.
The Sleep Foundation is offering some "concrete steps,quot; to help people fall asleep during the COVID-19 pandemic.