The sleeper
© Getty Images/EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS
The pandemic sleeper
A new study examining the impact of Covid-19 on our dreams has found that anger, sadness and hygiene are more commonly reported emotions and themes than before, as real-world fears manifest in the unconscious world.

Previous research suggested that dreams are a continuation of our waking reality - a long-suspected theory about the nocturnal neverland humans inevitably enter.

Confirming these earlier findings, this new research yields additional insights into the impact of social distancing and more rigid hand-washing practices on our subconscious. "These results corroborate the hypothesis that pandemic dreams reflect mental suffering, fear of contagion, and important changes in daily habits that directly impact socialisation," write the researchers.

They studied 239 dream reports submitted by 67 different people in Brazil before and after lockdowns between the months of March and April, when the pandemic truly began to take hold worldwide.

Among the data, anger and sadness were reported as more commonly experienced emotions in dreams than before, with the greater prevalence of themes such as hygiene and contamination, and cleanliness in general.

Meanwhile, the mention in the reports of positively and negatively associated emotion words remained constant, and there was no substantial increase in words relating to mortality or, indeed, health in general.

The findings "reflect a collective traumatic experience, as is often the case during plagues, wars, and natural disasters," according to the researchers.

There has also been a reported increase in instances of particularly vivid dreams around the world during the pandemic, suspected to be the result of disrupted sleep schedules.