As many of us are returning to work and the nation begins to emerge from lockdown hibernation, some of us might start to experience vivid or unusual dreams.
Everything we do during the day impacts our sleep, and ultimately our dreams. Given that most of us have experienced significant lifestyle changes since March, an increase in vivid and unusual dreams isn’t surprising. In fact, Google searches for weird dreams have doubled since this time last year!
We asked our sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, to explain the vivid dreams that might be coming our way and what they mean.
“We dream for different reasons - to process the information of the day, to make sense of emotional upsets, trauma and stress and to process our creativity. The dreaming process helps us to organise memories, consolidate learning and make sense of life.
“Yet the way many of us have been living since lockdown and all the changes to our routines is hugely affecting how we sleep - as we sleep well when our life is well. We can’t hide from our deepest fears and anxieties in our sleep, as the ‘shadow side’ is awakened in our dreams and this is heightened during unsettled times. When we get more REM sleep (the Rapid Eye Movement phase where we sleep lightly and with consciousness) and not enough deep sleep, the dreams become more vivid.”
Discovering an unknown basement in your house
“This is a dream about your living space being different and you discover a room, basement or maybe even an entire wing of your house that you never knew existed. We all have aspects of ourselves that we’re yet to learn about and this dream helps us meet those parts of ourselves that we’ve denied or never explored.
“Lockdown has been a time to be more introspective and enquire more about yourself, so maybe you’ve been thinking about a new career path or making some lasting lifestyle changes.
“Although this one can be disconcerting, it’s actually a really exciting dream and is a sign you are getting ready to embrace change and explore hidden parts of yourself. Previously closed doors are opening up.”
Driving and you lose control
“Dreams about driving a car mean we’re reflecting on a path we are taking through life. When you then lose control during your dream, this indicates there is a situation in your life that isn’t in-hand and you feel powerless. You’re worried that things are changing and moving too fast and you don’t know if you can keep up. You feel out of control.
“This dream may be a sign that you are feeling anxious about getting back out into the world and going back to work for example. Try not to be overwhelmed by this dream - control what you can and be open-minded and positive about what you can’t.”
Being in a public place and looking down to realise you are naked
“We’ve all been there - we’re sat at our desks and realise we have no trousers on! Thankfully, we wake up soon after and realise it was just a dream.Lockdown has allowed us to spend time in the place we feel the safest – our home. Suddenly we now need to get back out into the world, and this can be daunting. Nudity dreams such as this indicate that we feel exposed and vulnerable, which is to be expected as change is put upon us.”
It’s important to remember that while these dreams can be bizarre and uncomfortable, we should try not to be too perturbed. Don’t be afraid of your dreams; keep a journal of them and try to understand what they mean instead.