Life in lockdown could be causing people to have longer, more memorable and more intense or emotional dreams, an expert has said.
Increased financial pressures, cabin fever, and a lack of stimulation caused by staying at home for days on end could all result in significant changes to the dreams people are having, said Professor Mark Blagrove, a leading expert in sleep and dreaming at Swansea University’s department of psychology.
Professor Blagrove told the PA news agency: “Many people will have experienced a change in their circumstances recently, and any type of stress may be dreamt about.
“Some people will be having a life that is more boring than previously.
“But there will be a lot of people who have more stress, possibly because they are with people who they wouldn’t spend so long with as a proportion of the day.
“It may be discomforting, it may be extremely stressful and dangerous for people in domestic violence situations.
“You then have the extra things like financial worries, employment worries, worries about your children.”
Prof Blagrove said there was a metaphorical “replication of life in dreams” which focuses on the “more emotional side”.
He said: “For a lot of people, they won’t dream about their working life because, generally, it’s not that interesting.
“But if the current situation gives people more interesting things happening, it may happen that people are dreaming more.”
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 26, 2020
Professor Blagrove said that with workers no longer having to commute to their offices following the outbreak of Covid-19, there is a greater opportunity for people to sleep in, allowing them more opportunity to dream.
This has a particular impact on REM sleep, where dreams get longer and the brain is more active the later into the slumber they occur.
He said: “Alarm clocks will often wake you up in the middle of a REM sleep period. If you’re allowing the person to have the long sleep period, they could have longer dreams.
“You are more likely to remember the dream if you have a longer sleep. If you have a longer sleep, you will have a longer dream.”
Professor Blagrove, who said he had started dreaming about his cat since spending more time at home, said dreams featuring coronavirus, isolation or money would suggest that they are important to the person emotionally.
And he said there may be an increase in people dreaming about somebody they have not spoken to or seen in a while “due to long times spent on social media”.
He added: “There’s going to be a lot of people having quite emotional dreams.”