Have you ever woken up from a dream that was so realistic, yet so strange that you can't decide how to feel? Have you been having more vivid and strange dreams since lockdown?
Last night I had a dream that John Legend and Chrissy Teigen locked me in a bathroom and kept throwing bugs in there as a prank. I woke up really distressed about it. I don't even follow them on social media, It was so bizarre. It felt like I was in a Black Mirror episode that didn't finish, leaving me feeling slightly weird and unsettled afterwards.
This really got me thinking about dreams and their purpose. I mean isn't it slightly disturbing that throughout our entire history, we have not been able to determine the purpose of dreams?
Lockdown has prompted many people to Google “why am i having weird dreams lately”, giving sleep experts a better insight on their purpose. One popular theory being their therapeutic properties.
Below you can see the Google Trends for this search term in both the United States and in the United Kingdom, each having a sharp increase after lockdowns were put in place.
A recent study done by King’s College London and Ipsos Mori (a pollster), found that a significant number of Britons have experienced changes to their sleep patterns since the lockdown was announced on March 23rd, with nearly two-thirds (63%) overall saying their sleep has been worse. Two in five people (38%) report having had more vivid dreams than usual. Sleep experts suggest this is due to the fact that people are staying home, and catching extra hours of sleep.
"People who have been catching an extra hour in the morning will have had deeper dreams. And because they are waking up more gently, they are more likely to remember their dreams." says Dr Hugh Selsick of the Royal London Hospital. - The Economist June 2020
I also found it really interesting to learn that people suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder report increased dreaming and nightmares. Doctors believe this is a way for the mind to deal with difficult things. Even if people are not finding covid-19 that difficult, it is a strange reality we are all experiencing.
“It might be that vivid dreams reported by the participants in our survey are therapeutic, and that they may help us process the extraordinary reality” that we are living in, says Dr Ivana Rosenzweig of King’s College, who advised on the study. - The Economist June 2020
Whatever their purpose might be, it's hard to argue that dreams aren't cool. In a way they are our alternative realities. They allow us to experience the world through a different lens. Walking off cliffs, swimming in oceans, loosing teeth, falling but never landing. Dreams let us explore the snapshots of our daily lives in a collaged format, sometimes sparking creativity or addressing feelings that perhaps our conscious self wouldn’t.
I guess you could say that there is something exciting about their mystery after all.✨