Sunday, 29 March 2020 05:39

Coronavirus lockdown is causing people to have longer, more intense dreams. Here’s why

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People isolating indoors to slow the spread of coronavirus are experiencing more intense and longer-lasting dreams due to cabin fever, a psychologist claims.

Mark Blagrove from Swansea University says a lack of stimulation caused by staying at home for days on end is changing the way people sleep and dream.

Millions of people have been told to 'stay indoors' by the government to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 and to protect key workers who still need to be out. 

'Many people will have experienced a change in their circumstances recently, and any type of stress may be dreamt about,' said Blagrove.

The expert in dreams and sleep patters said some people will be having a life that is more boring than previously experienced, while also experiencing more stress.

People are worrying about financial issues due to job losses or concerns over work, issues with health and isolation from friends and extended family, he said. 

'There will be a lot of people who have more stress, possibly because they are with people who they wouldn't spend so long with as a proportion of the day.

'It may be discomforting, it may be extremely stressful and dangerous for people in domestic violence situations,' he said.

'You then have the extra things like financial worries, employment worries, worries about your children' all contributing to concerns that impact on dreams.

Blagrove said there was a metaphorical 'replication of life in dreams' which focuses on the 'more emotional side' and those aspects are heightening at the moment.

He said: 'For a lot of people, they won't dream about their working life because, generally, it's not that interesting.

'But if the current situation gives people more interesting things happening, it may happen that people are dreaming more.'

With workers no longer having to commute to their offices following the outbreak of COVID-19, there is a greater opportunity for people to sleep in, the expert said.

This gives them more opportunity to dream as they'll be in bed more at a time when they are in REM sleep - where dreams are longer.

During REM sleep the brain is more active the later into the slumber they occur.

 'Alarm clocks will often wake you up in the middle of a REM sleep period,' said Blagrove.

'If you're allowing the person to have the long sleep period, they could have longer dreams,' he said.

'You are more likely to remember the dream if you have a longer sleep. If you have a longer sleep, you will have a longer dream.'

Blagrove, who said he had started dreaming about his cat since spending more time at home, said dreams featuring coronavirus, isolation or money would suggest that they are important to the person emotionally.

He said there may be an increase in people dreaming about somebody they have not spoken to or seen in a while 'due to long times spent on social media'.

He added: 'There's going to be a lot of people having quite emotional dreams.'


It is the perfect learning shortcut, to play a language tape or revision recording at night while you are asleep.

But those desperately hoping the information will go in as they snooze may be disappointed.

Scientists have previously found that the brain does take in what it hears during REM sleep – the time spent mostly dreaming, usually in the morning before we wake up.

Leaving a tape running overnight is probably counter-productive as information gained in deep sleep can be completely lost.

French researchers found that sound played during certain parts of deep sleep may make information harder to learn when you wake up than if you had never heard it before.

That is thought to be because the brain is busy erasing memories at this time, and the new knowledge is dumped along with them.

In a study published by experts from PSL Research University in Paris in August 2017, researchers tested sleep learning by playing 20 participants white noise, which contained patterns of sound.

The sounds heard during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep were remembered by these people when they woke up.

They found it easier to identify the white noise which had repeated sounds in it because they had heard it while asleep.

But the noise played while people were in deep sleep, which makes up almost a third of our slumbers, was forgotten.