Explaining Your Weird Quarantine Dreams

I am at a party with all of my friends. And I am pregnant with twins. And the party is at the White House and simultaneously at a frat house. And strangely enough, no one is touching. I can assure you this is not a typical Tuesday night, but the premise of a bizarre, vivid dream I had the other night. I realized looking back over the past few weeks that I have had a series of peculiar dreams and that notably, I am able to remember most of them, even now as I write this article. After polling my friends in our Snapchat group chat (the height of scientific accuracy), I discovered that I was not alone in either having more strange dreams or having dreams that I could recall with accuracy the next day or even week. 

Turns out that my friends and I weren’t the only ones wondering about our dreams. According to the Boston Globe, searching “weird dreams in quarantine” on Google results in 5,800,000 articles and videos. 

A Harvard Medical School dream researcher and former president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Deidre Leigh Barrett, spoke to Boston Globe and stated that this phenomenon is being caused in part by the new life changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of these big life changes is more sleep for most of us, as we work or study from home and are able for the most part to set our new hours. I know for myself that I am able to get eight every night easily, and I do not have to set an alarm every morning now. 

Barrett states that many of us are doing “catch-up sleeping” and in turn “catch-up dreaming”. This catching-up period often takes place in long periods of REM sleep which increases as the night goes on. Many of the dreams thematically relate to getting COVID-19, being attacked by bugs or finding a cure for the virus that has changed all of our lives. This phenomenon in relation to COVID-19 is not unusual in and of itself. Weird dreams have also occurred during other periods of change such as 9/11. A neuropsychologist, Dr. Brittany LeMonda, reaffirms this stating that, “We see very often that individuals report vivid dreams, vivid nightmares, whenever they go through a traumatic event.” 

If these dreams are bothering you, Barrett recommends “dream incubation”  which is repeating in your mind a specific dream you would like to have before bed, while Dr. LeMonda suggests keeping a dream journal or sharing dreams with loved ones. A website, I Dream of COVID, run by artist Grace Gravley is also collecting quarantine dreams from across the world and attaching artwork to it.