For millions of people worldwide affected by the coronavirus pandemic, sleep brings no relief.
According to several psychologists, the horrors of COVID-19 and the frightening ways in which it disrupted daily life infect dreams and reveal feelings of fear, isolation and sorrow.
Experts say that humanity has rarely experienced “collective dreams” on such a large scale in recorded history – and certainly never while being able to share these dreams in real time.
“As far as I know, no one has dream samples from the 1918 flu pandemic – and that would probably be the most comparable thing,” the University of Harvard, Deidre Barrett.
“Now we all have our smartphones by our bed, so you can just reach out and talk or type. Recording our dreams has never been easier.
Sleep provides no relief to millions of people affected by the coronavirus pandemic who live vivid dreams in which they lose control or are overcome by illness
Barrett, who previously studied the dreams of 9/11 survivors and British POWs during the Second World War, has already collected 6,000 dream samples from around 2,400 people during the current coronavirus crisis.
The samples come from people around the world – many live remarkably similar dreams, showing that the psychological effects of the virus transcend culture, language and national boundaries.
According to Barrett, many people dream of being sick with COVID-19 or are overcome by what appear to be virus replacements: swarms of insects, slippery worms, witches, grasshoppers with fangs.
Meanwhile, others dream of losing control. In one of these dreams, the dreamer was restrained by infected people who coughed against her. In another, the dreamer came across bands of people shooting random strangers.
Most are dreams of lower level anxiety, not trauma-induced nightmares. But that changes dramatically for front-line health workers, says Barrett.
“Health care providers are those who resemble a traumatized population. They have merciless nightmares that re-enact the things they experience and … they all have the theme: “I am responsible for saving this person’s life and I can’t do it and this person is on the verge of death” . ‘ she said.
“And when they dream that their child or their parents will get it, for caregivers, there is always the next stage in the dream where they realize …” I gave it to them. “
A worker with a disinfectant is pictured spraying an ambulance in California earlier this month. According to several psychologists, the horrors of COVID-19 and the frightening ways in which it disrupted daily life infect dreams and reveal feelings of fear, isolation and sorrow.
Meanwhile, Cornell University professor Cathy Caruth is also analyzing the dreams of those living with the coronavirus epidemic.
Caruth says the pandemic dreams recall the experience of Hiroshima survivors, who were worried about exposure to invisible radiation, as well as some of the nightmares described by Vietnam veterans.
“They seem to be partly on things that are hard to grasp, what that means is that anyone can be a threat and that you can be a threat to everyone,” said Caruth.
As people around the world experience disturbing and vivid dreams, many Americans report that they are having trouble sleeping properly in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic.
A survey commissioned by SleepStandards asked 1,014 Americans about their sleeping habits during the pandemic. .
It found that 76.8% of people said their sleep had been affected since the spread of the epidemic began in the United States – anxiously the most consistent answer on what keeps respondents from sleeping at night.
A woman wearing a face mask covers herself with rain while walking down the street amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York earlier this month