The Grapevine

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Affecting Everyone’s Sleep

Anxiety levels have soared during the pandemic, standing in the way of a good night’s sleep. Frequently waking up in the middle of the night due to the decrease in sleep quality has led to people recalling dreams more vividly. Also, strong emotions can change the content of our dreams for the worse. 

The trauma reflected in people’s dreams today amidst the pandemic is similar to the psychological toll experienced after 9/11 or that of war veterans. An assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, Deirdre Barrett, is conducting a worldwide analysis of people’s dreams. She began in March, and now has a record of 6,000 dreams from surveying 2,400 people. 

Strangely enough, some people are getting a metaphorical representation of fears in their dreams, such as insects with fangs and supernatural elements. However, there are people who dream of the worst: mass shooting, people forcefully coughing on them without social distancing and the like. 

The most traumatized are the frontline healthcare workers, whose dreams reflect feelings of guilt for not being able to save lives. In their dreams, they also blame themselves for giving COVID-19 to immediate family members. 

Consistent dreaming has led to a rise in insomnia across the country. According to a survey by SleepHelp.org, 22 percent of people said they have poor sleep quality since the COVID-19 pandemic started. 

Among the worries keeping people from falling asleep, fear of being infected with COVID-19 was one of the main reasons for 14 percent of the respondents. Extensive news coverage highlighting negative aspects of the pandemic is alarming one third of the survey's respondents, since health resources are strained and the economy is in trouble. 

With most people are working remotely from home while simultaneously watching over their children, getting seven hours of sleep becomes a challenge. A lack of sleep can weaken the immune system and cause stress levels to increase. Schedules have been tossed aside and the world as we know it has changed, making it that much more harder to fall asleep. 

“A lot of the issues we’re going to see around this pandemic are tied to general anxiety, so primarily insomnia. These can be exacerbated by working in bed, being stuck with a partner/significant other in tight quarters for too long, and by not sticking to a consistent rise time,” Logan Foley, managing editor of SleepHelp.org, said. 

girl sleep Sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Pixabay

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