Since coronavirus first hit last year, people have reported having stranger, more unsettling, and more vivid dreams.
According to an expert, there are five new scenarios that are most common to Brits.
Dream psychologist Ian Wallace said: “A dream is like the ultimate selfie. It’s a way of processing all information we have absorbed, mainly unconsciously, during the day.
“The fundamental function of dreaming is to understand, explore and resolve our emotional life.
“In lockdown people feel they are trapped and constantly worried about what might happen next. But if you are able to identify what those anxieties are through your dreams, it’s the first step to having power over them.”
Last year, a study of the UK public by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI found two in five people are having more vivid dreams than usual, with that figure increasing to 43% of women.
And half the people questioned who admitted finding coronavirus stressful had more striking dreams.
Various groups have been studying the patterns, including University College London’s Lockdown Dreams research project and the Museum of London which is collecting testimonies of people’s dreams for an exhibition.
According to Ian, there are a couple of reasons why these changes are being seen.
He said: “Because our schedules are disrupted – we might be on furlough, we’re in lockdown, we’re losing track of time – our sleeping schedule is disrupted too.
“We have poor quality sleep so we wake up more and we remember our dreams more. The other side is because dreams are all about processing emotion – and everyone’s in a state of heightened anxiety, not quite sure what’s happening.”
The top dream sparked by Covid is always the most common – being chased. But this time the pursuer is faceless.
Meanwhile, the second is being trapped in a space that’s getting smaller – meaning we feel our options are limited.
Ian revealed: “If we dream of being chased, it represents an ambition we’re pursuing in our waking life. Being chased by something faceless means we are trying to identify and understand what we need to achieve this ambition.
“Trapped in a space getting smaller and smaller used to be much further down the list of common dreams but it’s No2 now. It represents feeling restricted.
“It particularly common in people who are concerned about job contracts, their career options and income prospects.”
The third most common Covid dream revolves around a wrong number – trying to call someone or get into a building via a keypad but unable to get the digits right.
This represents trying to communicate with someone but not being able to get your message across – or failing to understand what people are telling you.
“Usually in a family or workplace, we know how to communicate, what buttons to push to get an outcome,” said Ian. “But we are now feeling so distant this doesn’t work any more. People feel it’s very hard to get their message across.
“It also relates to receiving mixed messages, often coming from the official advice countries put out – lock down, don’t lock down, do this, don’t do this.”
Making up the final two are being surrounded by rotten food or empty shelves, and being in an empty workplace.
Ian explained: “Food represents the ability to fulfil yourself. So if the shelves are empty or the food is rotten, we might feel our ability to fulfil ourselves is poor.”
He added: “The empty workplace is usually reported by people who have recently retired, but now it’s in a huge range of age groups.
“You go to your workplace and there’s no one there. Or it’s a mash-up with the wrong number dream, you’re trying to get in via a keypad or your pass and can’t.
“Your workplace symbolises a feeling you are doing something valuable and purposeful. If you can’t get into your workplace in your brain, you feel you don’t have purpose.
“This one is now particularly prevalent among freelancers or people who have been furloughed. It means you need to find a way of valuing yourself.”
Ian, who is helping promote immersive suspense-adventure game Little Nightmares II, also revealed a nightmare is really no different to a dream.
He continued: “The reason we create a dream is to try to send a message to ourselves. What happens in a nightmare is that we’re not paying attention to the messages we’re receiving.
“So a nightmare tries to get our attention. People get really scared of nightmares but they’re just processing really powerful emotion.”
*Little Nightmares II is available for pre-order ahead of its release next Thursday ( February 11) on PC, PS4, XBOX ONE and Nintendo Switch.
WHAT YOUR COVID DREAMS MEAN
1. Being chased by someone faceless: You have an ambition in your waking life – the faceless element means you are trying to understand how to achieve it.
2. Being trapped in a small space: You feel your options are limited. Common in people who are concerned about jobs and income.
3. The wrong number: Phoning someone, or trying to get in somewhere using a keypad, but you get the wrong number. You are struggling to get your message across, or you are getting mixed messages from other people.
4. Surrounded by rotten food: You are struggling to feel fulfilled in life
5. Empty workplace: You feel you are not doing anything worthwhile or purposeful – you need to value yourself. Common among furloughed people.
HOW TO REMEMBER YOUR DREAMS
Ian recommends the “will, still, fill” method.
1. When you go to sleep, tell yourself: “I will remember a dream or part of it.”
2. When you wake up, be still. Don’t speak, look at the clock or move your body as the dream will start to drain away.
3. As you remain still, the dream energy will come back to you. Then fill in the gaps between the images to tell the story.