People have been reporting more vivid or unusual dreams, in addition to trouble sleeping, during the pandemic.
Trauma, stress, and changes in routines and schedules can all impact the sleep cycle, according to sleep experts.
And not having a sense of control also creates stressors that keep the mind engaged, says Psychologist and Sleep Expert Janet Kennedy.
“We like to have a plan. We like to know when things are going to be better and we don’t know that yet. So the mind keeps sort-of running through this—running through the scenarios and keeps us very activated,” Kennedy told NY1.
“That activation comes through in our dreams. When we’re stressed, we have stressful dreams. And because this situation is so intense, those dreams will be that way too,” she said.
For others, dreams are barely happening as they struggle to fall asleep in the first place.
The pandemic has birthed a state of hyperarousal, keeping thoughts and energy high, and challenging one’s ability to fall asleep.
“Insomnia is a huge issue, whether it’s falling asleep or staying asleep, because there’s so much going on,” said Kennedy.
To improve sleep, Kennedy suggests getting up at the same time every morning to create a proper sleep schedule, and setting an end time for business activity to allow time to unwind.
Kennedy also proposes writing down thoughts in bed for those whose minds are racing, and keeping a sleep diary.
Kennedy was a guest on NY1’s One New York Tuesday morning.