Each morning I'm greeted by my parents asking "how did you sleep last night?", a question which is, like most mundane conversations currently, preoccupying the nations' minds. Zoom calls have been filled with people's tantalising retellings of their weird dreams – sadly, no salacious stories or fantasies to spice up our lack of sex lives, but instead bewilderment at the vivid nightmares we now call dreams. (After all, lockdown is the new nightmare, right?)
Mum's dreaming that one of her friends has all the papers to the NHS and is stowing them in a manhole in their garden; my boyfriend is dreaming he's enrolled at Hogwarts and is a wizard spy stopping the pizza thief; I dreamt someone stole my triple chocolate crunch cereal and it was the last box in the world (it's a personal diet staple).
Unsurprisingly, data has shown that close to half the respondents of a sleep survey in the UK were finding it harder to fall asleep than usual, with unease surrounding the pandemic affecting sleep for three-quarters of people.
Although it doesn't seem to make sense that doing less equates to heavier eyelids, our brains are coming alive at night to counterbalance our slow pace of life.
It also explains why we're a little more fatigued during the day. Although it doesn't seem to make sense that doing less equates to heavier eyelids, our brains are coming alive at night to counterbalance our slow pace of life. It's draining to feel as though we should be bashing out the same amount of work as we would in a "normal" day, but we have to remember we'd be more active normally. Our walks to the library weren't just good for our wandering bodies, but they gave our minds a chance to wonder too.
The government's guidelines on diet and (now UNLIMITED) exercise may alleviate mental health struggles, but others have moved to criticise the lack of support on sleep. It's vital to our wellbeing, it's something we can't escape and, now more than ever, dreaming is a way we can escape what feels like the never-ending doom of lockdown.
Throughout the pandemic, women were reported as having higher levels of stress and anxiety, which has led to more vivid dreams. This could be for a host of reasons. Women are more likely to report feeling like this, as well as the possibility of them juggling home-schooling and work-life.
Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert who works with both Sleepstation and The Sleep Council said: “Given that millions of Brits have been impacted by the coronavirus in some way, it’s no wonder three quarters of those surveyed feel ‘corona-anxiety’ is affecting their sleep."
The Mental Health Foundation adopts a four-fold approach to sweet dreams under the acronym HEAL: health, environment, attitude, lifestyle.
We may not have a cure for Covid-19, but there are steps we can take to lessen these hallucinogenic dreams. The Mental Health Foundation adopts a four-fold approach to sweet dreams under the acronym HEAL: health, environment, attitude, lifestyle.
Check your physical health; double check your mental health; curate a zen space; adopt a new relaxation technique (meditation? mindfulness?) – try something different to unwind. Maybe even keep a diary of your new habits and track what works for you.
As for me? I'm going to start a quaranDREAMS diary, these momentos will make a good book one day. I'm sure a Harry Potter-come-food-fanatic-come-NHS-papers story would sell. Weird times, weird commodities and all that. Oh, and perhaps I'll start putting the triple choc crunch to one side before bed.