I would not consider myself a dreamer, at least when it comes to the actual subconscious phenomena of dreaming that occurs during sleep. The first few weeks of quarantine, I quickly noticed that I began having irregular, imaginative dreams, many of which I could vividly recall the next morning. After days of my memorable dreams persisting, my curiosity grew, and I found that many of my close friends and family had also been experiencing the same thing. Due to the usual lack of dreams in my sleep, I acknowledged that this was not by mere coincidence, but that the peculiarity of the state the entire globe must have an impact on the brain’s extraordinary way of processing thoughts and memories through dreams.
With modern culture so focused on success and fast paced lifestyles, many people are sleep deprived, whether they acknowledge it or not. According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s, more than a third of American adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, yet they should be getting seven hours of sleep or more to insure optimal well-being and health. The amount of hours slept determines the vividness and length of dreams, and it is evident that in these unprecedented times many who are sleep deprived are finally catching up on some much needed sleep. What is most commonly known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep occurs as the fifth and final deep stage of sleep, and is when dreams are most likely to occur and be recalled.
In addition, Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, explains how dreams are one way the brain processes our emotional problems, and memories. Therefore, the more anxious the brain is, the more vivid dreams can potentially become. Furthermore, the brain is often compared to the gut in that its purpose is to figuratively “consume” and “digest” given information throughout each day. When the brain experiences situations that are unordinary or complicated to digest, dreams are most often provoked in order to process such information.
Due to the pandemic, these atypical dreams many people are experiencing are also predominantly revealed in the form of nightmares. The fear and anxiety that have come with these unprecedented times have created many nightmares that include events such as, illnesses, famines, apocalypses, etc. While these dreams can be viewed as something foreboding to fear, it is important to remember that dreams are merely a healthy way in which our minds work to stabilize our waking mental state, and process everyday information. Not everyone will experience these bizarre phenomenons, yet as the world changes more, and your sleep habits are thrown off, expect more extraordinary dreams to follow, and admire the incredible ways in which our brains were made to function.
Photo Credit: John C. Maxwell