From insects to infections: How the pandemic is invading our dreams and how to make it stop

BOSTON — You may not like to hear about someone else’s dreams, but most people love to talk about their own. Dream researchers said that’s happening more now, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I wondered how long it would take for the dreams to catch up and they did,” Dorchester dreamer Lindsay Crudele said.

Crudele says her dreams seem more vivid now.

“I was in a playground that was crowded filled with children that all had balloons,” she recalled. “All of the balloons were popping into me and I was struggling to find a way to walk through the park.”

Harvard University dream researcher and author of the book “The Committee of Sleep” Deirdre Barrett says those vivid dreams are more common now for several reasons. She says life changes often “stir-up” your dream state.

Also, Barrett says the last dream cycle of the night is typically the most vivid. Since many of us are no longer commuting and are getting up later without the use of an alarm clock, those final dreams are not cut short.

Barrett has been surveying people for weeks about their pandemic dreams and has gathered more than 4,000 dream recollections already.

She says there are common themes.

“There are a lot of people who are dreaming about the virus itself, they’re coming down with it … about sheltering at home, wearing masks and gloves,” Barrett said. “Every disaster that can happen to you, tornadoes, earthquake, hurricanes, bad people shooting at you.”

And then, Barrett says, there are the bug dreams.

“I have dozens and dozens of people who are being swarmed by every kind of insect in the world,” Barrett said.

To try to stop those dreams Barrett says you should be thinking about your dream. Doing some informal dream interpretation may help you understand what they mean, especially for repetitive dreams.

“The best method is to think about what you would like to dream -- pick out a person you’d like to see, a favorite vacation,” Barrett said. “Tell yourself: ‘I want to dream about this.'”

She believes that mantra gets through to our “dreaming mind” so we’re less likely to have anxiety dreams and more likely to have the dreams we’re requesting.

If you’d like to participate in Barrett’s survey, visit this website.

She hopes to release the results in a research paper or possibly a short book.

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