While the whole world grapples with ‘the new normal’ there are many subtle yet important signs of changes in our lives. The question that has been on the forefront for me is – why are we having more vivid dreams right now?
There’s a part of us that chooses what images to bring into our dreams. And when there is something like a pandemic, that is so pervasive in our culture it is hard to avoid, and so it makes us dream more and remember more. Dream experts say that we also have the time now to remember our dreams better, as we can lay in the bed and think more compared to when we jumped out of beds for a non-stop work commute.
Why Are We Dreaming More?
- Life changes
- Catching up on sleep
- Sleeping without an alarm / waking naturally
Dreams show us what’s going on in our subconscious. And while we are in these stressful times, it has amplified a lot. And added to that, as people work more and more from their homes, there is always a chance of sleeping in the next morning and therefore having longer stretches of dreams that are recalled.
People having stress and anxiety are more inclined to having nightmares, and people who have got a chance to relax and slow down from an extremely hectic schedule tend to have relaxed positive long dreams.
Dr. Deirdre Barrett – author of ‘The Committee Of Sleep‘ says –
“Any big life change makes our dreams more vivid.”
Blast From The Past
I have been surprised at having long dreams which many-a-times include a lot of people from my past, kids I have grown up with or people I have known but never met or talked to in years. Moreover, I dreamt about many new people whom I didn’t necessarily know, but were an integral part of the stories that made up my dreams. This I thought was so strange, I wasn’t even thinking about anyone in particular! Experts say many people are experiencing the same. Psychologist and Dream Expert Linda Neale says that we have dreams of wanting things and when we are isolated, we want to see people want to connect with more people, and that’s what we do in our dreams! So our brains are helping us out in a way, they’re helping us remember that we have these connections with people. Isn’t that fascinating!
A girl who was going to get married recently recorded that her wedding was postponed. She kept having this recurring dream that she was wrapped from head to toe in toilet paper! Guess that was a custom-made wedding gown she didn’t order!
Surveys indicate that most people are having dreams that may also be cathartic in nature. Dr. Deirdre mentions that when events like a hurricane or 9/11 happened, people experienced dreams like the demolition of houses or mass destruction. However, currently, since the ‘danger’ is invisible, that is to say, the coronavirus is an invisible threat, some people plug in feelings that consist metaphors of other kinds like swarms of bugs, small weapons, street shootings, things that you might be afraid of individually, etc.
A nurse working frontline shifts recorded that she had the same recurring dream regularly. The dream was quite transparent, as it had to do with the outside world being threatening, people inside the house of the party she was at wanting to know what the warnings she was given were, and having seen a dead body, and having a cat on her face suffocating her.
So the anxiety dreams are the main issue here. How can we overcome it?
How can we dream better?
Picture a dream you would like to have. I’m not kidding. This is legit advice coming from dream experts. Before you go to sleep think about the places you loved visiting in the past, think about your loved ones, or memorable events in your life. You can also try imagining your future life milestones in an ambitious positive way. Many people also tend to imagine they are flying over places they had always wanted to visit!
It may not work 100% of the time, but it surely helps you profusely to kill your anxiety dreams and wake up with a happy positive attitude in the morning. After all, none of us wants to let a crazy scary dream hang over our heads all day!
After following this advice and just being more self-aware, I have seen changes in my dream pattern. My dreams have been very clear visually in the past couple of months. I remember them so much better, and I distinctly recollect the way I feel during the dream. Often times I also carry that feeling throughout the day and stay more positive.
I experienced a lot of restlessness, fear, and anxiety in the first two months of being quarantined. Now five months in, I have adapted to the situation and even prepared for the future being uncertain for a while. This has helped me tremendously, as I sleep soundly, have no insomnia whatsoever, and have long positive, even interesting dreams that feel like reading a captivating book!
If you have insomnia through this period, which a lot of people experience in the lockdown, here are some ways to overcome that:
- Wake up at the same time every day
- Avoid screens at night. Try listening to a book or a favorite song
- Avoid a bath or shower late at night
- Do not work in bed
Tip Of The Iceberg
Dreams are an iceberg and our conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg, and unconsciousness is the water underneath. Dreams are like these messages that come from underneath the water and they come up into our consciousness and if we remember them, we then can understand them to understand the iceberg. So they are very important to know yourself.
Dreams can be transparent, but they can tell you about your life in a sort of metaphorical way. And metaphors of your life can be quite enlightening. All of these symbols are unique to the individual. It’s all about what’s going on in the dreamer’s life. It’s so wonderful since dreams are transitory. So the best thing to do is record it, even if you remember a part of it.
Use some of this time to write down or record a small video of your dreams, or even paint your dream. Share it with somebody. It’s very helpful to have a conversation with someone you trust about this. And if somebody shares their dreams with you, be a good listener. Don’t try to interpret their dream. Let them do it for themselves. You can encourage them by asking questions and asking them how they felt in the dream. One great benefit of sharing your dreams with other people is: it gives us a sense of self-disclosure, which again helps us cope with it well. So have conversations and try to figure out what it means for you.
After all, we are learning all kinds of new hobbies, but also constantly complaining about getting bored. Why not take some time to learn about your own dreams a little bit? I think it is fascinating, and a good topic of conversation for weekly check-ins with friends and family too!