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COVID-19 has led to more nightmares, study finds

Yes, you’re having nightmares because of the novel coronavirus.

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A face mask is discarded on a sidewalk during the coronavirus outbreak in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, Thursday, May 21, 2020.

A face mask is discarded on a sidewalk during the coronavirus outbreak in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, Thursday, May 21, 2020.

AP

A new studysuggests that fears and anxiety over the novel coronavirus have led to more nightmares.

What’s going on?

A team of researchers in Finland found that the coronavirus “had infected more than half of the distressed dreams reported,” according to Medical Express.

  • The researchers crowdsourced sleep and stress data for 4,000 people during the COVID-19 lockdown in Finland.
  • 800 respondents also offered information about their dreams.
  • “We were thrilled to observe repeating dream content associations across individuals that reflected the apocalyptic ambience of COVID-19 lockdown,” said lead author Dr. Anu-Katriina Pesonen, head of the Sleep & Mind Research Group at the University of Helsinki. “The results allowed us to speculate that dreaming in extreme circumstances reveal shared visual imagery and memory traces, and in this way, dreams can indicate some form of shared mindscape across individuals. The idea of a shared imagery reflected in dreams is intriguing.”

What did the researchers find?

The researchersgrouped all of the dream information into clusters or themes. The themes of the dreams included:

  • Social distancing
  • Coronavirus contagion
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Dystopia
  • Apocalypse

The study also found people have been sleeping more since the pandemic began, but they have a harder time falling asleep.

  • “Repeated, intense nightmares may refer to post-traumatic stress,” she explained. “The content of dreams is not entirely random, but can be an important key to understanding what is the essence in the experience of stress, trauma and anxiety.”