Sleep: Why am I having nightmares during the coronavirus pandemic?

Now more than ever, Brits need to be getting a full night’s rest. When you’re sleep-deprived, your immune system takes a beating and you are more likely to become ill. Not only this, when you’re tired you become more stressed, emotional, and are more likely to make poorer life and food choices. While stuck at home it can be difficult to find an outlet for your feelings, and negative thoughts may creep up more than usual. chatted to dream interpreter Jane Teresa Anderson to find out why, and how we can stop this from happening.


Why am I having nightmares?

Jane Teresa explained that our dreams process our conscious and unconscious experiences of the last one to two days, and compare these to similar experiences in our past.

When you bottle up your feelings, they will always come back to bite you in your dreams.

She said: “It’s important to acknowledge our fears, to be aware of them.

“Some people may try to repress their fears and other emotions at this time, but those emotions live on in our unconscious and subtly affect our thoughts and actions.

“They also make themselves heard in our dreams, contributing to sleepless nights and exhausted days.”

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Jane Teresa added: “Our dreams update our mindset every night.

“Many people are processing their fears at this time, which is why their dreams are often scary.

“When you feel fear in a dream, your body is flushed with fear and stress hormones, so your physical body is actually prepared for ‘fight or flight’.

“This physiological response is what often wakes us up from scary dreams, leaving us with heart racing, goosebumps on our skin, and a feeling that something scary really has happened.

“This intensifies the fear and can make us scared to go back to sleep in case we have another nightmare.

“It’s a vicious cycle, ending in daily exhaustion.”

What themes are likely to pop up in our dreams during the pandemic?

There are many common themes popping up in your dreams at the moment.

The odd thing is that what scares us in these dreams doesn’t look like what scares us in waking life, said Jane Teresa.

Interpreting the dream helps us to identify our exact fears and see how we can face these and find ways through.

The most common themes at the moment are being trapped, being out of control, and loss.

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Being trapped

“Many people are dreaming of being trapped – perhaps in a dead end street, or a lift, or a hole in the ground,” said Jane Teresa.

She added: “The dream is most likely to be about feeling trapped in self-isolation, quarantine, being too close to our partner all day long, feeling like we have too few choices and so on.”

Interpreting the dream helps us to identify our exact fears and see how we can face these and find ways through.

Jane Theresa said: “This dream might help us to find a different kind of freedom, to see better ways to relate to our partner, or choose to free up our future options by taking the ‘trapped’ time to study online or or come up with new ideas for the future.”

Being out of control

If you have been dreaming that you are out of control, this could also be to do with the pandemic.

Have you ever had a dream that you are driving a vehicle, and it spins off course or the wheel isn’t working? That is the perfect example.

Jane Theresa said: “In times of uncertainty we can all feel a lack of control.

“Our dreams can help us to see what we can and what we can’t control, as well as help us to see the opportunities of letting go and seeing where that takes us.

“Such dreams can also show each of us where we have control issues – or why we lack control – and why.

“This is helpful information, The more we know ourselves at a deep level, the better decisions we can make.”

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The Department of Health has advised the peak is likely in a bit less three months.

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Whether you’re dreaming about losing a person, an object, or being lost yourself, they all symbolise a fear of loss in real life.

Jane Theresa explained: “These dreams may reflect our fears and feelings over losing touch with our loved ones, losing jobs, work, money, losing a sense of identity or belonging, or losing our sense of direction, meaning, and purpose.

“The list is endless, but loss is a key emotion so many people are feeling or fearing at the moment.”

How can I use my nightmares for good?

Jane Teresa said more people are consulting her about scary dreams at the moment.

She said: “Right now, most people are focussed on dreams that are frightening them or dreams that they intuitively feel hold a key for coping in a positive way with the challenges they are facing with this pandemic.”

“I help people to see that dreams they see as negative all hold positive insight and opportunity.

“When we acknowledge and face our fears, when we learn more about ourselves through our dreams, we discover the silver linings in these dark days.

“Our dreams can help us to come to terms with the situation and to find new and healthy ways to interact in the world both now and when we emerge from this.

When will my nightmares go away?

The good news is, you don’t have to spend the entire coronavirus crisis scared to go to bed due to the nightmares that await you.

Nightmares will go away when you have resolved your fears, rather than when the situation is resolved, explained Jane Theresa.

She said: “To avoid nightmares, face your fears, talk about them with people, seek out advice for how to handle them, look for positives and silver linings.

“The most powerful thing you can do is wake up from a nightmare and, while awake, reimagine it in a changed way.

“For example, if you dream of being trapped in a lift, wake up and imagine finding a window to climb out, a window that leads to a beautiful spacious place where you can breathe easily.

“What this does is help to prevent the nightmare from repeating while also sending a message to your unconscious mind that there is a way out of feeling trapped.

“Your unconscious mind will start to work on finding that way out.

“In waking life, you will suddenly feel less trapped, perhaps find a way to feel freedom in some way- this is a process I call Dream Alchemy.

“For any scary dream, when you do dream alchemy (when you reimagine the dream with a positive ending) the key is to change the negative (like the trap) into a positive (like the window to freedom).

“Don’t kill anything scary (like a monster): transform it. This way you transform and resolve your fears – and the nightmares stop.”

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