Studies from Finland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States are featured in today's news round-up:

Yes, COVID-19 Is Literally a Nightmare

It’s one thing to say that COVID-19 is a nightmare when describing what the pandemic has done to the world, but it’s also a literal nightmare, according to researchers in Finland and the U.S. Over 4,000 people responded to a survey about dreams and nightmares during the sixth week of a lockdown; 811 reported their dream content. After analyzing the responses, the researchers found 33 dream themes. Twenty were classified as bad dreams, with 55% of them being related specifically to the pandemic, such as failures in social distancing, catching the infection and personal protective equipment, among others.

Those who had bad dreams also reported being more stressed, which would make sense given that they likely slept fitfully. However, there could be a vicious cycle because it also seems that people who were stressed had more bad pandemic-related dreams.

Good News for People with Type 2 Diabetes Who Go to Bed Early

A study by researchers from the United Kingdom and Australia found that people with type 2 diabetes who are early birds were healthier than those who were night owls. It appears that those who stay up late tend to exercise less – 56% less – than their early-to-bed counterparts. Exercise is particularly important in diabetes management to help maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure.

“There is a need for large-scale interventions to be implemented into diabetes care which support people with [type 2 diabetes] to initiate, maintain and achieve the substantial benefits of an active lifestyle,” the authors wrote. “This may be particular pertinent for those with an ‘eveningness’ preference.”

Coffee Before Breakfast May Negatively Affect Blood Sugar Control

If you're watching your blood glucose (sugar) levels because you have diabetes or you're at risk for the disease, you may want to think about when you drink your coffee. Researchers from the U.K. performed a small study (only 29 people) and learned that drinking strong, black coffee before breakfast “…substantially increased the blood glucose response to breakfast by around 50%” in that group. This would impair the blood sugar levels, making them higher than they should be. So, although you may want the coffee first thing so you can wake up to make that breakfast, consider what it might be doing to your blood sugar.

Work Bubbles Reduce COVID Spread

The word “bubble” has taken on a new meaning this year. Take, for instance, the work bubble. This would be a cohort, group, of employees who work together in a designated place, without mixing with other employees not in their bubble. They schedule rotating workdays, and the workspace undergoes disinfection after each use.

A study out of Canada shows that this approach does reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. In addition, if someone in the bubble does become sick, only the coworkers in the bubble are at risk, not everyone else in the company. This limits the number of people who have to self-isolate and perhaps be tested. “Implementing a work bubble strategy that physically separates employees either spatially or temporally (or both) through adjusted work schedules will reduce the risk of company-wide disease transmission and reduce the risk of full operational shutdown,” the authors wrote.

Social Media Friends as Teens May Benefit Mental Health Later

Worried about your popular teen who seems depressed? A study from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, may give hope to teens who are popular through social media, but still experience depression. Researchers gathered data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to get a picture of depressive episodes and the number of online friends the participants had.

While teens who were popular often reported having depressive episodes, especially girls, the depressive episodes lessened as they entered adulthood. “For women, higher popularity predicts greater depressive symptoms in adolescence, followed by a steeper decline to lower levels in early adulthood,” the authors wrote. Part of the teens’ problems with depression could stem from the gender issues related to popularity overall and the stress and emotional burden placed on the girls.