If you’ve been having bizarre dreams during the pandemic, you’re not alone.
Those who are sharing their #pandemicdreams on Twitter are either amazed at the peculiarity of their dreams or distressed by plots that center on death, fear and strange new worlds.
“In my dream, I called an Uber, but a hearse showed up instead. Not liking these #pandemicdreams,” posted Sarah Schachner on Twitter on March 23.
“I dreamed that I encountered a duck hanging out in deep snow,” wrote John Johnson in a Tweet on April 8. “I asked the duck ‘if I were your chickie would you take care of me?’ and the duck replied ‘yes.’ It was very reassuring. #pandemic dreams”
According to experts, these cryptic responses are normal. Our brains’ way of understanding the stressful information we take in during the day can manifest in nightmares.
Or we might dream of past chapters in life that were less stressful.
“This [pandemic] is something that they’ve never experienced before,” said sleep medicine expert Dr. Meir Kryger, professor of pulmonary medicine and clinical professor of nursing at Yale School of Medicine.
“And it’s possible that their brains are trying to find a time when things weren’t like that. It’s like when sometimes people are trying to fall asleep and they can’t turn their minds off. They will try to think about a time when things were better.”
The science behind bizarre quarantine dreams
Researchers still don’t know why we dream, said Jason Ellis, a psychology professor at Northumbria University and director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research.
But there are a few theories.
“There’s the evolutionary theory that says we use dreams to try out different scenarios in a safe environment” that might be challenging or threatening in real life, Ellis said.
Another hypothesis is the memory consolidation idea, he added, which suggests that when we’re dreaming, we’re taking in the information we’ve collected throughout the day to either create new memories or sort unfamiliar information into existing knowledge that informs our reasoning.
“When we look at people’s brains when they’re sleeping, you can actually tell differences between when they’re dreaming and when they’re not. And we can certainly see that brain activity changes as a function of dreams,”