The idea that COVID-19 has affected our day to day lives is something we’ve grown accustomed to. It has changed our social interactions, our shopping, our work life, and every other domain we would otherwise go through without batting an eye. But who would have thought that research is showing that COVID-19 is even affecting how and what we dream about.
Harvard Medical School psychologist Deirdre Barrett has conducted research by collecting some 15000 dreams and dissecting how dreams were affected throughout the pandemic’s unwelcome stay. Barrett’s initial work found that the first wave, dreams of breathing inability and being covered in insects increased drastically.
Homeschooling and lockdowns also changed the nature of dreams, with people finding themselves in prisons or taking surprise tests in the safety of their homes upon dozing off. After the pandemic’s first six months, the more day to day problems of the pandemic worked their way into the psyche.
People started to dream about forgetting to wear masks and being surrounded by massless people which leads to a sense of anxiety. The shift seems to have been dreams about catching the virus (insects, sharks, breathlessness) to social anxiety (crowds, forgetfulness, etc.)
With two-third respondents women and one-third men, Barrett published her work in ‘Pandemic Dreams’, a short anthology of dreams collected from 2020 onwards. Not even the dream world is safe from this pandemic as the themes we encounter in waking life seem to have seeped into our unconscious. Have you ever had COVID-19 related dreams? Leave them in the comments below!