Tag: sleep

This Is What It Means When You Dream About Work

If you dream that your workplace is on fire, you’re not the only one having this nightmare. Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a dream analyst for over two decades, said dreams in which offices go up in uncontrollable flames are common among her clients during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Fire catches and it spreads, much like the virus,” Loewenberg said, speculating about the connection. 

Although dream interpretation is not an exact science, there are psychological reasons why people report they are dreaming more lately. 

“Crises tend to stir up our dream life. Just as we’re thinking more dramatic, emotional, intense thoughts by day when a crisis first starts, it activates our dream life,” said Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School and the author of “Pandemic Dreams.” 

“You see an uptick of dreams in general, but especially, obviously, anxiety dreams,” she said.

Barrett noted that for some people, changes with work have given them more opportunity to sleep in or take naps, and that can also increase dream recall. 

One poor woman said that her recurring nightmare was just about the box on the Zoom screen with her boss in it.Deirdre Barrett, psychologist and author

Barrett has been surveying people about their vivid coronavirus dreams since March. She observed that most of the dreams people have about work are negative, such as dreams about losing a job or working under dangerous conditions.

One woman whose job is to deliver food in a nursing care centre had a long-running dream in which the building was flooded, lights were shorting out and some type of monster was prowling the hallways, Barrett said. “All this time she was trying to do food delivery, what she does in waking-life, but just every horror movie thing that could go wrong in the place where she delivered food was happening.“

Health care workers tended to have recurring nightmares about respirators failing in both realistic and fantastical ways, Barrett said. For remote workers, Zoom was a common haunting feature.

“One poor woman said that her recurring nightmare was just about the box on the Zoom screen with her boss in it,” Barrett said. “She found the interactions with him on Zoom so stressful, and she was so afraid that she was going to lose her job.”

In general, Loewenberg said, the common dream scenarios people have around work are being naked on the job, being unable to complete a task or having sex with a boss. 

Being naked at work is a common dream scenario. 

Loewenberg noted that just because these scenarios may happen in your dreams, it doesn’t necessarily mean you actually want them to happen. If a co-worker appears in you dream, she says, they can represent unresolved conflicts within yourself.

Take the dream about being intimate with a boss, for example. Loewenberg said it could mean that there are characteristics about being a boss that are attractive to you. “Where else in your life do you need to take more action, be more authoritative?” she said you could ask yourself.

If you want to find meaning in your dreams, Loewenberg recommends keeping a journal to track how you are feeling, what you were struggling with during the day and what you dreamed about in sleep. This should help you connect the dots between the two, she said. 

If there is a dream that recurs, for example, “take a look at the outstanding emotion in that dream,” Loewenberg said. “Was it stress, was it fear, was it anger, was it sadness? What in your real life and work, in particular, is causing that same emotion?” 

If you do dream about worst-case scenarios at work, don’t see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy. First, ask yourself if what you dreamed is a realistic possibility.

Sometimes, dreams may help you problem-solve. In one 2010 study, scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center told 99 participants to navigate a 3D maze as quickly as possible. After their initial training, the participants either got to take a 90-minute nap or were told to remain awake. The nappers who dreamed about the maze ended up showing significant improvement in navigating the maze compared to those who did not dream and did not nap.

Put what you see in your dream life in perspective. If you do dream about worst-case scenarios at work, don’t see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy. First, ask yourself if what you dreamed is a realistic possibility, Barrett said. 

Those unpleasant scenarios you imagine at night could be helping you prepare for what’s to come during the day. Science journalist Alice Robb, author of “Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey,” noted that Finnish neuroscientist Antti Revonsuo developed a threat simulation theory for why negative dreams are common. He argues that these dreams can be our body’s biological defence mechanism to keep us sharp. 

Take the classic dream in which you go to class for an exam and forget to bring a pencil, Robb said. 

“You work through those anxieties in your dreams, and then you’re more likely to set an extra alarm or make sure you’ve done your studying,” Robb explained about the theory. “It actually kind of desensitises us to those stressful situations that come up in real life and improves our performance.”

Your Intense Pandemic Dreams Might Be Helping You – Here’s Why

If people have been wearing face masks in your dreams, you’re not alone. Research has shown our dreams now regularly represent a Covid-19 world – and it could be our brain’s way of learning new rules or behaviour. 

Researchers in Finland have analysed the dream content of almost one  thousand people and found we’re regularly dreaming about the virus and social distancing. 

Over the course of a week, 811 people agreed to share the content of their dreams. The research team then used artificial intelligence software to identify common themes in their reports, which they termed “dream clusters”. 

Twenty of the dream clusters were classified as bad dreams, and 55% of those had pandemic-specific content. 

The results showed that we’re dreaming about failures in social distancing, coronavirus contagion and personal protective equipment, such as face masks. 

Other themes that emerged were dreams featuring hugs, handshakes and crowds – but these were often associated with negativity or words such as “restriction” or “mistake”. 

“We were thrilled to observe repeating dream content associations across individuals that reflected the apocalyptic ambience of Covid-19 lockdown,” said lead author Dr Anu-Katriina Pesonen, head of the Sleep & Mind Research Group at the University of Helsinki.

“The results allowed us to speculate that dreaming in extreme circumstances reveal shared visual imagery and memory traces, and in this way, dreams can indicate some form of shared mindscape across individuals.”

More than half of those who participated in the study also reported an increase in stress during the pandemic and these people were also found to have higher  incidences of bad dreams. 

But speaking to The Times about the research, Dr Pesonen said these dreams may actually serve a purpose as they suggest our subconscious is trying to learn the new rules of living.  

“We measured the dreams in a period where people were forced to learn a new code of conduct,” she said. “People were dreaming about not being able to touch, or about making mistakes in distancing — this suggests it’s about learning. Dreaming helps us to consolidate changing our behaviour.”

If you’ve been struggling to sleep during the pandemic or have been plagued by Covid-19 nightmares, sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor previously told HuffPost UK you should take some proactive steps to regain control over your dreams.  

She advised spending 10-15 minutes in the early evening writing your worries and thoughts down on paper, exercising during the day to prepare your body for good sleep and keeping a basic sleep routine, such as a consistent bed time. 

When Being Tired Is Actually Depression

Depression may be among the most common mental health issues, but it is still often misunderstood. Many people assume that the condition manifests itself in really overt sorrow and hopelessness. But the symptoms tend to be much broader, and often more …

How Often Should You Wash And Replace Your Pillows?

Content warning, this could turn your stomach: 

Viewers have been left horrified after a woman filmed herself deep cleaning her partner’s “nasty” pillows after he refused to clean or replace them for 10 years. 

A TikTok user by the name of Margaret documented the process of stripping the three stained and yellowing pillows while her boyfriend was at work, and the end results were incredible. 

Firstly she soaked the filthy pillows in a bathtub with two dishwashing tablets and Borax (a natural mineral found in many detergents and cosmetics) before adding bleach to the mix. 

@itsamemargieo

This was worth driving to 3 different stores to find borax #pillowwashing#cleaning#ScienceAtHome#satisfying

♬ Steven Universe – L.Dre

After some prodding and swirling in an attempt to wring out the dirt, Margaret got “impatient” and placed the pillows in the washing machine and then dryer for 54 minutes.   

The video has racked up more than 1.7 million views and people are understandably repulsed. 

“I don’t know why I feel like I’m witnessing a crime right now,” one TikToker wrote. 

“Replace the whole boyfriend,” commented another while others posted about his hygiene, causing Margaret to explain she bought new pillows but he won’t use them because “he’s attached to these.” 

The good news is that there are moves you can make to extend the life of your pillows when it comes to hygiene, the first being washing your pillow case every week.  

So, how often should we wash and replace pillows? 

Experts say pillow cases should be washed weekly, and the pillow itself should be replaced every three months. 

The concern is less about the pillow breaking down and more about the host of critters and debris that can be found in the pillow you lay your face on night after night. 

Dirt, oil and dead skin cells get trapped there, which may lead to acne. Dust mites, which belong to the spider family, also like to hang out in the crevices of your pillow. 

“You can’t see them, but they’re concentrated in things like bedding and carpeting,” says Mark R Neustrom, DO, of Kansas City Allergy and Asthma Associates.

Dust mite accumulation can cause very real health problems, namely unpleasant reactions in people who are allergic to the bugs. Neustrom says that of all people with allergies, around two thirds of them may be allergic to the types of dust mites that congregate indoors.

A TikTok video of a woman washing her boyfriend's pillows for the first time in 10 years has gone viral, fetching 1.7 million viws

And unlike allergens like cat dander, the protein that triggers reactions to dust mites isn’t typically airborne, he says, so symptoms that are particularly strong first thing in the morning is a good sign the problem might be your pillow. Anyone with year-round nasal symptoms also might want to get tested for a dust mite allergy, he says.

“Always change your pillowcases weekly when you strip the bed. Changing and washing pillowcases may need to be done more frequently if you have an eye infection, or other lesion on or around your face/head,” Mary-Louise McLaws, Professor of Epidemiology in Health Care Infection and Infectious Diseases Control toldHuffPost Australia. 

“Weekly changing of pillowcases extend the life of the pillow and keeps dirt/infection from entering your skin.” 

The deep cleaning and soaking process of “stripping” has gone viral on social media platforms recently with audiences realising a quick round in the washing machine doesn’t always cut it to remove tough grime. 

Stripping pulls out hidden gunk from clean clothes using a concoction of detergents.  People have been left shocked by the dirty water left over in the tub after washing their already “clean” clothes. 

Follow cleanfluencer Go Clean Co’s  method below to try out stripping. 

With additional reporting from HuffPost US LIFE. 

 

Harry Styles Fans Can Now Go To Bed With Him As He Teams Up With Calm App For Bedtime Story

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Ever dreamt of nodding off with Harry Styles whispering in your ear? Well now you can (kinda).

The former One Directioner has lent his dulcet tones to sleeping aid app Calm, in the shape of a bedtime story. 

Harry Styles 

Calm teased the release of the story with a clip on social media, along with the hashtag #DreamWithHarry. 

It didn’t contain much other than Harry saying, “Hello, I’m Harry Styles” in his distinctive soothing voice, but that was still enough to drive his fans absolutely wild. 

THIS IS IT. HARRY IS SAVING 2020.

— 𝓬𝓪𝓼. 🌸 (@cxrneliastyles) July 6, 2020

“hello, i’m harry styles” me, certainly not sounding calm: yeS, HELLO, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE

— 𝐬𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐚 ◟̽◞̽ PINNED TWEET (@larrycaring) July 6, 2020

I ALREADY CAN’T HANDLE A 2 SECOND CLIP, I WON’T BE ABLE TO FUNCTION AFTER THE FULL CLIP

— ayesha #1 🍒 stan (@kiwisugar18) July 6, 2020

*screams internally cuz i need to be calm* pic.twitter.com/KphzSXE3uM

— anita💚 (@gaaayvodka) July 6, 2020

@calm I’m not calm

— 𝐊𝐫𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐥♡ (@sweet_hs_camila) July 6, 2020

The firm had earlier teased its collaboration with Harry by posting a watermelon emoji, a reference to his current hit, Watermelon Sugar.

Harry has become the latest famous face to collaborate with the company, which produces meditation products.

Other stars to work with Calm include Oscar-winning actress Laura Dern, Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge and comedian Stephen Fry.

Dream With Harry will be available on the Calm app from Wednesday.

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Changing The Way We Sleep

We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.

The pandemic has had an unusual effect on most aspects of our lives – and perhaps unsurprisingly, our sleeping patterns have also taken a hit.

Many of us have been going to bed later and enjoying longer lie-ins during lockdown – but our quality of sleep has taken a turn for the worse.

Wellbeing psychologist Dr Andy Cope analysed data taken from Simba’s sleep and mood tracking app between March 8 and April 25. The results from 50,000 Brits suggest an “emotional corona-coaster” during the pandemic, as our sleep quality has gradually declined. 

Wake-up moods were more erratic during the first two weeks of lockdown, and there was a “notable drop” in sleep quality from March 23 – the day lockdown measures were announced.

One possible reason for this is rising alcohol intake, as data from the tracking app shows we’re drinking more booze. This echoes a survey from Alcohol Change UK that found one in five have been drinking more frequently since lockdown. 

“When you drink alcohol, your body creates chemicals aldehydes and ketones,” Cope explains. “Aldehydes block the brain’s ability to generate REM sleep.”

Graph shows our quality of sleep declining and our alcohol consumption rising during lockdown.

A study from Italy shows a similar sleep quality pattern. Data from 1,310 people aged 18 to 35 years old who completed an online survey from March 24 to March 28 revealed many were going to bed later, waking up later and spending more time in bed. They were also reporting a lower sleep quality.

On average, bedtime was delayed by 40 minutes in workers and students. The restrictions had a stronger effect on wake time: workers started to wake up one hour and 13 minutes later than usual, whereas students delayed their wake time by 45 minutes. Overall, workers spent an extra 26 minutes in bed, compared to an extra five minutes for students.

People with depression, anxiety and stress were more likely to have poor sleep quality, the research found. Interestingly, the use of digital media before bed was not associated with a decline in sleep quality.

Kathryn Pinkham, founder of the Insomnia Clinic, has witnessed an uptake in enquiries since lockdown began. “People are getting in touch who have a sleep problem that’s got much worse during lockdown, or were fine during lockdown and now they’re sleeping really poorly,” she tells HuffPost UK.

There are a few key ways to know if you need to improve your sleep quality, suggests The Sleep Foundation: if it takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep; if you wake up more than once in the night; if you find yourself staying awake for more than 20 minutes after waking up in the middle of the night; or if you spend less than 85% of your time in bed asleep. 

So, what’s scuppering our sleep quality?

It’s no surprise sleep has been affected, says Pinkham, because so many things about lockdown “are the antithesis of what you should do for sleep”. 

People aren’t getting up as early as they usually would because they don’t have to commute or do the school run. “They’re not setting their alarms and they’re waking up later,” she says, “and the problem is, if you wake up later, you don’t develop a strong enough drive to sleep well the next night.”

Lockdown also means people are spending more time at home, bored, inactive, and not getting outdoors as much. “They’re not as tired and their drive to sleep is not as high as it needs to be – so then they’re getting into bed and struggling to sleep or finding the quality of sleep is very fractured,” she says.

Dr Andrew Bagshaw, a sleep expert from the Centre for Human Brain Health at University of Birmingham, believes the lack of schedule is a key issue. “The whole life schedule has changed and that’s maybe the thing that’s having the most impact,” he explains. Put simply, again, we’re not tired enough. 

We’re not as tired and our drive to sleep is not as high as it needs to be.Kathryn Pinkham, founder of the Insomnia Clinic

Bagshaw points out that in the Italian study, sleep quality was worse in those who scored highly for anxiety, depression and stress – and lockdown can exacerbate these issues. “Even if they’re not diagnosed, I think there’s a lot of variability,” he says. “Some people are coping okay with this change and some are coping less well.”

Pinkham agrees there’s more uncertainty, stress and worry, which is impacting our sleep. “When we go to bed it’s the perfect time to worry. The problem is, if we get into a habit of waking up at 3am and worrying for a couple of hours, it’s exactly that – it becomes a habit,” she says.

“So then the next night you wake up, you do it again. It’s almost like you’re telling your body clock: this is what I want to do at 3am.”

How can we improve our sleep quality?

Find yourself lying awake in the early hours worrying? Pinkham recommends writing before bed. Spend 20 minutes with a pen and paper, and write whatever is on your mind: the things you didn’t get done today, the things you need to do tomorrow, the things you’re worried about.

“Go back to setting your alarm again,” she suggests. Wake up earlier, go to bed later, and build up your “sleep drive” once more. Stay out of your bedroom in the day as much as you can. Natural light is important for the body’s circadian system – and therefore your sleep – so getting outside more could also help you fall asleep faster. 

Dr Bagshaw suggests people should focus on scheduling, and setting a routine. “Normally it’s clear when you need to go to bed because you have to get up at a certain time,” he says.

Try sticking to a consistent bed time, having a consistent wake time, and ensuring you have a period where you wind down and relax as much as possible before you go to bed. 

Having Vivid Coronavirus Dreams During The Pandemic? Experts Decode Them.

Dreamface

No, you’re not imagining it: Your dreams really have been more vivid and intense since the coronavirus pandemic began.

You’re not alone, either. Google searches of the question “Why am I having weird dreams lately?” have quadrupled in the past week as all of us struggle to understand why the pandemic and being on lockdown have seeped into our subconscious. 

Poor sleep quality is partly to blame. According to a recent survey of 1,014 adults conducted by SleepStandards, a site that reviews mattresses, 76.8% admitted their sleep has been affected.

We have dreams every night, but the better we sleep, the less likely we are to remember them in the morning. Stress fragments sleep and increases our ability to recall our dreams. 

Research has shown that increased anxiety during the day can lead to more negative content in dreams ― especially during a global crisis like this. After 9/11, researchers found that the collective trauma made our dreams more intense and memorable in the days following the attacks. (You’re not alone if you recall having a plane crash dream back then.) 

In this case, all those pent-up thoughts you have about you or your loved ones catching Covid-19 are bound to make it into your nightmares.

“We dream at night what we can’t think or feel during the day ― and there is a lot of unthinkable shit happening right now,” said Emily Anhalt, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Coa, a “gym for mental fitness.”

“Add to that the guilt we feel for complaining while people are dying, and our emotions have nowhere to go,” she said. “So where do those thoughts go? They present themselves in our dreams, disguised by symbol and metaphor.” 

Is it just me or has everyone been having like super vivid dreams over quarantine. I can’t remember a night where I haven’t had atleast 2 dreams. They have complete story lines, a full arc and ending… not mad. Just suspicious.

— SofiA bRyANt (@sofiakbryant) April 13, 2020

Interestingly, the symbols and metaphors that pop up in our own respective dreams are pretty universal. When we recently asked readers to share some of their most vivid dreams, many of them touched on the same themes.

To better understand our coronavirus dreams, we asked dream experts to decode some of the most common themes readers sent us. Read their analysis below. 

Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dreams About Public Gatherings

1. “I’ve been having coronavirus dreams every night. Mostly they involve me out in public places that we used to visit. Disneyland, Las Vegas, movie theatres. My three young kids are running around in crowds of people, touching everything while I chase after them, crying.”

2. “In one dream, my husband threw a surprise birthday party for a friend (and I had no idea who this friend was). Guests started to arrive and I was horrified, thinking about how many of them will then die from Covid-19. In another dream, it was our wedding day (at a venue I didn’t recognise), and I yelled in my dream, ‘This wedding can’t happen, lots of people will die!’”

3. “I had a dream I went to Disneyland and realised I forgot to wear pants. I rushed to a store in Downtown Disney to buy something to put on, then realised I forgot to wear a mask. And then I realised I really shouldn’t be at Disneyland at all, anyway. I chalked it up to my fears of being unprepared for a pandemic.”

Weddings and birthdays are milestone events that usually involve a plurality of people. Dreams about them suggest the dreamer is preoccupied with how Covid-19 will affect people en mass, said psychologist Anjhula Mya Singh Bais.

“They’re thinking not individualistically, as they would be if it were a dream about a job promotion, but rather, events that involve love and community like birthdays and weddings,” Singh Bais told HuffPost.

Both events also embody ideas around life and death.

“Birthdays are when you came into the world, which means an automatic countdown has begun toward when we will die, and wedding vows involve ideas like ‘until death do us part,’” she said. 

As for the Disneyland dreams, “Disney is quite often synonymous with innocence, fun and good memories, back in the day when things were good,” Singh Bais said. “Running around there in your dream suggests you miss the freedoms that we maybe took for granted. Now there’s a new world order where no place feels safe.”

As for the missing pants in the last dream? “Forgetting to wear pants as opposed to a shirt or cap symbolises the naked truth that you feel vulnerable,” she said. 

Survivalist, Pop Culture-Inspired Dreams

1. “I’m having survivalist dreams. I’m buying the kind of stuff I know they wished they had on ‘The Walking Dead.’ There are multiple tornadoes coming from [all directions]. I’m trying to keep everyone safe but there’s too many people, so I have to make choices.”

2. “I had a dream a few nights ago where life was a combo of ’1984’ and ‘Hunger Games.’ The 10 richest families in the world released the virus as a ‘Hunger Games’-type contest to see which nation found a cure first. My dream had media coverage, too, but it appeared to be gameshow hosts instead of news anchors on air. Life was very much like ‘1984’ in observation. It was really weird.”

Tornadoes often symbolise destruction and life upended, Singh Bais said.  

“The world as we knew it has come to an end like it did in ‘The Walking Dead,’” she said. “Covid throws up many questions. Your dreams are playing out survival scenarios in a bid to maintain hope, preparedness and stability.” 

In the case of the “Hunger Games” dream, seeing the pandemic as a game likely helps this person step away from her emotions and take a more objective view, said dream analyst Jane Teresa Anderson.

“One strategy for surviving and even thriving in crisis is to switch into cool, objective mode,” she said. “The dreamer might be exploring a ‘cure’ for losing her job, a cure for issues around her relationship that are heightened due to self-isolation, or a cure for any number of personal challenges.”

Missing Snacks

1. “In my dream, Stormtroopers (wearing yellow armor instead of white) from the CDC were raiding houses and confiscating everyone’s personal hoards of Crystal Pepsi, as it was a needed ingredient for the Covid-19 vaccine. They were pounding on the door to my house, which I found weird because I only drank Coca-Cola Clear back in the day, and had neither since 1980-something.”

2. “I’m in my 38th day of isolation because I had experienced symptoms. I really just dream about snacks. I ran out of snacks in week one!”

Dreams about missing snacks are related to feelings of being deprived, depleted and unrewarded, said Carla Marie Manly, author of “Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend.” 

“Having one’s snacks taken away reflects the fear of being robbed or deprived of what we want and need in life,” she said. “The Stormtrooper dream also reflects anger and irritation at the government-imposed restrictions which may feel overreaching and invasive.”

A Mysterious Figure

1. “I’ve had dreams about the coronavirus a few times, each of them different. The most memorable one was when I was patting my 2-year old to sleep one night and begin to doze myself. I was in an auditorium that had a deep red curtain. It was fairly dark there. A few people were in there, none of whom I noticed nor did I really recognise. What I noticed was, in the far corner, a slender human body with an ominous, giant black rabbit head was just silently watching in the back. It was wearing a vertical black and white striped outfit. It made me incredibly uneasy. I knew what it was in my dream; it was a visual manifestation of this virus that’s currently lurking everywhere. The dream was brief but left me uneasy for days. It was early on in the stay-at-home order. I just felt its presence and like it was silently calculating who to come after, no one else aware of its presence. I’ve always been weirded out by artwork or displays of human bodies with mascot heads on, but this was pretty out of the ordinary for me, in terms of dreams. Even weeks later, I still feel uneasy when recalling it.”

2. “I dreamt I was in my living room when something broke into my home right through the wall. I was running from this beast with a loud roar. I hid in the bushes outside while it stomped around my yard threatening everyone and everything I loved. I’m guessing my mind was processing the virus and gave it a visible form.”

3. “Every night, I dream that I’m sheltering in place in a run-down, abandoned mansion with some faceless man that I don’t know. At first I have fun exploring the house and finding secret rooms and passageways. Toward the end of the dream, furniture starts moving around by itself, doors slam shut on their own, and the piano starts playing by itself. I wake up right as I’m about to run out of the house and just take my chances with the virus. Each night, I dream about this same house. Sometimes, I show the man the different rooms that I have found in previous nights’ dreams. For some reason, the faceless man is only wearing a towel around his waist, like he just got out of the shower. He never has clothes on. Awkward. Glad to see that I’m not the only one having weird dreams right now!”

In the first, the auditorium setting is meaningful, said Lauri Loewenberg, author of “Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life.” The dreamer may feel like our current situation is more like a show, not real life.

“The dreamer, like all of us, may be eager for this show to be over, to close the curtains on this nightmare,” she said. “Also, the dream was dark. Whenever a dream takes place in the dark, it is often because the dreamer’s emotions are dark at the time or the dreamer is uncertain or ‘in the dark’ about a certain issue in his or her life. Both of these could certainly apply.”

The dreamer’s subconscious is using imagery that has always creeped her out to give form to the virus, Loewenberg said. “And the rabbit head may be a reference to how this virus is multiplying like rabbits are known to do.”

In the second dream, the dreamer is right on the money in their interpretation: The virus has taken visible form in the beast. 

“The beast ― or the virus ― broke into the dreamer’s living room,” Loewenberg said. “The living room represents that which do on a daily basis, our day-to-day lives. The dreamer ran out of her living room because her daily, living routine has been vastly disrupted.” 

Covid throws up many questions. Your dreams are playing out survival scenarios in a bid to maintain hope, preparedness and stability.Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, psychologist

The house is incredibly significant in the last dream. Houses ― whether they’re our actual home or imagined ones ― tend to represent the self, Loewenberg said. The type of house and the condition of it says a lot about the dreamer’s current state of mind. 

“Mansions often symbolise a big part of the dreamer, a part of the self the dreamer is proud of,” she said. “Since the mansion is abandoned and she is excited to explore the rooms, this may be a part of the dreamer that she has neglected but is excited to get back to now that quarantine has likely given her tons of extra time.”

Despite the dreamer’s good intentions, the more difficult parts of quarantine are likely starting “to haunt” her since the mansion becomes so creepy she wants to make a run for it.

“I think the man is a part of herself as well and is most likely her male energy: the part of her that is no-nonsense, with assertive energy. On the other hand, unknown women in dreams tend to represent creative, emotional and nurturing energy,” Loewenberg explained. “Just as the man seemed to have just gotten out of the shower, her no-nonsense, ‘get-er done’ side is telling her to cleanse herself of her frustrations and negativity and get back to what she was originally excited about.”

 

A Return To Childhood

“I’ve been dreaming of my childhood home at the age my son is now (9) and of my deceased father. In my dreams, my parents are both alive, healthy and strong, and I feel cocooned by their mere presence. I interpret my subconscious returning to that time in my life as the antithesis of the anxiety and fear I feel now. My nearly 74-year-old mother lives alone, in the Bronx, and I am terrified of her becoming ill. I am no longer the child, but the parent who must provide love, stability and calm. I awake feeling alarmed and winded, as if I have literally traveled through time and space. Despite my fears, however, I know I am among the lucky and for that, I am grateful.”

This dreamer is looking for a solution to the problem of her anxiety and finds just that in her memory of being cocooned by her parents, Anderson said. The dreamer is taking comfort in an era when her mother was healthy, strong and capable of protecting her daughter. It’s interesting that the dreamer is thinking of her 9-year-old son; when our children reach specific ages that resonate with our own childhood, we often dream of being that age again, Anderson said. 

“There may be something around being 9 in her own childhood that she needs to revisit,” Anderson said, “It’s helpful to look at everyone and everything in a dream as representing something about the dreamer: her ‘alive, healthy, strong’ parents in the dream may represent her own healthy parenting abilities, and the child, in the dream, is the part of herself that needs cocooning even though now she’s the mother.”  

Also on HuffPost

How To Interpret And Manage Your Pandemic Dreams

I was roller-skating in a hockey arena last week, while Céline Dionjudged me from the sidelines for not wearing a mouthguard. Over the Easter weekend, archaeologists threatened me with swords unless I helped them dig up dinosaur bones for the Pope. 

A totally real, absolutely factual discovery I made while social distancing. Sure, let's go with that. 

Unless the Canadian icon is taking a break from inspiring quarantine masterpieces and the Vatican is suddenly into fossil-collecting, both occasions obviously didn’t actually happen weird dreams are the new ordinary for myself and countless others, ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started. 

Anyone else having super weird dreams since this CV stuff started? I guess the subconscious has a lot to process these days …

— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) April 7, 2020

By the way I had a dream that me and Oscar Isaac teamed up to rob a bakery and he paid me in pie, so…I take back that thing I said dismissing people having weird quarandreams.

— Olivia Cole is social distancing & u should be too (@RantingOwl) April 14, 2020

People have puzzled over the strange phenomenon, with the Twitter account @IDreamofCovid socialising dreams that speak to life under lockdown

I had a dream last night that I broke quarantine to go get a haircut and I ended up with a huge bald patch on the right side of my head. My brain is not playing with Covid.

— LOVE & NAPPYNESS OUT NOW (@MattMuse12) April 12, 2020

I just dreamt that all my friends were in a zoom call without me and I was extremely salty. If that ain’t the most quarantine type dream idk what is.

— Ismail Barkley (@ismailjavier0) April 12, 2020

An informal HuffPost callout for dreams got nocturnal visions from people both mundane and bizarre. One mum Marcia Steeves has been dreaming of meet-ups with former classmates and visiting their favourite hangouts. 

“Our old teachers would wave from afar, it made us all feel warm and safe,” she told HuffPost Canada. 

The pandemic’s timeline has affected nightmares too. In a direct message on Twitter, one dreamer from Saskatoon noted that theirs became vivid when locals started panic-buying toilet paper. A Toronto-based author’s nightmares were funny once he woke up, such as the imaginary fright he got when his house was trashed by partiers.

now having nightmares about roaming house parties busting into my place like i’m the square in a rock video

— Midsgar (@ZaaackKoootzer) March 28, 2020

But as Ontario’s state of emergency continues, he’s been more troubled by dreaming. 

“The most distressing one was about being in Honest Ed’s, repeatedly touching my own face and getting upset at myself,” he told HuffPost Canada.

Others have found themselves dreaming of former stressors, like 31-year-old Ottawa resident Kayla Spagnoli. She’s been having nightmares five times a week about her former job as an embalmer, plagued by imaginary bodies piling up and her calls for help going unanswered.   

“I’m trying to sort and casket bodies upon bodies,” she told HuffPost Canada. “So who’s going to do pick-up at the morgue? I’m trying to problem-solve and nobody’s answering.”

Bad dreams run rampant in the minds of many Canadians coping with the pandemic.

Experts shared with HuffPost Canada likely reasons for the spike in vivid dream recall, as well as how to interpret what you see at night and manage them should nightmares become too distressing. If you’re among the fitful sleepers, here’s what you should know about dreaming during a pandemic:

Sleep cycles, stress and late-night vices may play a role

Data is still emerging on pandemic dreaming, but early small-scale studies suggest the pandemic has caused more vivid dreaming and poor sleep quality: A YouGov poll of more than 2,400 adults found that nearly 30 per cent of respondents say their vivid dreaming has increased, and a SleepHelp survey found that one in five adults have been getting less sleep because of Covid-19. 

The jury’s still out on why exactly we’re dreaming more vividly, but several dream experts have shared theories to explain the phenomenon. 

One commonly accepted theory? We’re not having more weird dreams, but we are remembering them more. Scientific evidence has shown that we’re more likely to remember dreams that occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep, which occurs right after the stage of deepest sleep. Because of this, both those who are sleep-deprived and trying to pay back their sleep debt because of a quieter schedule, as well as those who are sleeping in, may be prone to vivid dreaming, the New York Times reports.   

“Many of us are not being woken by an alarm right now. When you wake up without disturbance, the chances of recalling a dream also improve,” Montreal Gestalt counsellor Layne Dalfen told HuffPost Canada.

Another line of thinking points the finger at crisis-related stress. New York City neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez told HuffPost Canada that the subconscious is where the brain processes emotions and thoughts through memory associations.

 

 

Being in a crisis situation with uncertainty around when it will end would certainly give our minds plenty of overwhelming emotions that need processing. 

“Our brains are going to places our conscious minds may not allow us to delve into while we are awake… When we are in REM sleep, [there’s a] confluence of all the anxiety and fears we might try to suppress during our waking hours,” she said over email. 

Hafeez also points out that substances people may be using to cope such as drinking alcohol before bed to fall asleep faster actually disturbs one’s REM cycles.

“The body does something called ‘REM rebound’ as a means of compensation. It is in this phase that dreams become more intense,” she added.

How to interpret your pandemic dreams

Leading scholars like Harvard Medical school assistant professor Deirdre Barrett are collecting Covid-19 dreams for analysis. She told Vice that many have shared nightmares involving insects, from finding worms to encountering swarming bugs. 

Others are bringing social distancing measures into their dreams, or are terrorised by nightmares of the virus personally affecting them or their loved ones.

my mum dreamt that i got the corona virus……… idk what to do with this information.

— Rishtha Shuja (@_Rishthashuja_) March 3, 2020

While dreams like these might be helpful to take at face value ― worrying about Covid-19 all day would likely translate to those worries manifesting at night ― science has yet to definitively prove that what we see in our dreams speaks to anything concretely, with some neuroscientists theorising that dreams are just by-products of memory storage processes conducted by our brains. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t carry meaning based on how we feel about them.

“You have a worldview and I have a worldview. Every night we change that world view slightly but significantly, depending on what happens during the day. That is an important function of dreaming,” American psychiatrist Allan Hobson told South China Morning Post, to explain how the emotional meaning of dreams are significant from a survival standpoint.

Dalfen emphasises there’s no one-size-fits-all dream dictionary that can interpret every fantastical image, as what you see in a dream is unique to your life experience. But if you’re hoping to get insight into a recurring feature in a dream or want to pinpoint what daytime anxiety you may be ignoring, it might be emotionally helpful to decode a dream.

Using six “points of entry,” Dalfen says dreamers can figure out what aspect of a dream resonates most strongly with their waking self: how you feel during it, what action occurs, the plot of the dream, repeating patterns in the dream, symbols and wordplay. From there, a dreamer can draw their own conclusions and potentially address any real-life anxieties they have. For example, a recent client told Dalfen she dreamt of being in Target and found the store choice interesting when she was awake, as she had felt “targeted” since the pandemic started.

How you interpret a dream will depend on how you feel about certain symbols, people, patterns or memories that take place in it.

For many, thinking about how they feel about a dream’s imagery has helped them process real-life worries. Spagnoli says she believes her embalming nightmares come from a place of guilt, as that’s how she feels both when she’s asleep and when she’s awake, thinking about not being on the front lines. Understanding that concern has helped her work towards alleviating her guilt.

“I’ve talked to people I trust [about feeling guilty], including my twin,” she said.  

If your vivid dreams have been about mundane tasks like going to work or commuting, Hafeez says this may be because our brains are nostalgic for when times were better.

Steeves realised that how safe she felt in her schoolyard memories was a sign she was nostalgic for feeling like an invincible youth again. For her, it was helpful to look at how school was a symbol of security.

“Our teachers and the buildings represent the securities of our childhood that we are all yearning for right now,” the mom wrote to HuffPost Canada over Twitter.

Dr. Hafeez’s sleep routine for better dreaming

Drawing on her neuropsychology background, Hafeez shared a nighttime routine that may help reduce the likelihood of having a pandemic-related nightmare. 

  • Don’t drink alcohol: This includes other stimulating substances like sugar, caffeine or narcotics before bedtime.

  • Unplug from bad news: Consuming grim Covid-19 updates non-stop can be detrimental to one’s mental well-being, which the neuropsychologist says can lead to anxiety that your psyche may need to address. 

  • Use a calming ritual: A wellness or guided meditation app is an easy way to build relaxation into your routine, Hafeez notes. Other calming rituals might include making your sleep schedule more consistent, using soothing scents — Spagnoli recommends lavender — light stretches, low-intensity yoga poses, and writing what you’re grateful for in spite of the pandemic. Reducing technology use can reduce stress, too.

  • Watch or read something happy: Hafeez recommends capping off your night with something funny or uplifting.

  • Keep a dream journal: It may be helpful to track recurring patterns in dreams or nightmares, as externalising a dream can help process it and make nightmares less scary. 

If your nightmares are consistently waking you up in the middle of the night because of how disturbing they are, or if they start affecting how you function during the day, Hafeez recommends seeking professional help. Ongoing vivid nightmares can be a symptom of PTSD or another mental disorder; Spagnoli, a longtime nightmare sufferer, says antidepressants and therapy for borderline personality disorder have equipped her to better handle pandemic-related bad dreams.   

The bottom line is, if your pandemic nightmares are leaving you overly distressed, “it’s time for you to schedule a virtual consultation with a mental health professional, like your therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist,” Hafeez advised. “We can’t really control our dreams.”

Skin Issues Caused By Coronavirus Lockdown, And How To Deal With Them

If you’re not one of the many essential workers either labouring to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic or provide those of us able to stay home with the necessities to stay there, you’re probably not going outside much right now.

Chances are you’re eating different foods. You may not be exercising as much. Or maybe you’re exercising more. You may not be sleeping well, or at odd times. And you’re likely pretty stressed out right now.

As a result of all of this ― plus all the other factors in your life ― your skin is probably freaking out in a number of ways. We talked to two dermatologists about how to take care of your skin when all your normal routines have been upended.

Thirty percent of people pick at their skin, and times of stress and anxiety can make people pick more than they normally would.

“Your skin is a reflection of your overall health,” said Heather D. Rogers, owner ofModern Dermatology in Seattle and Doctor Rogers Restore skin care. “Focusing on just your skin is too microscopic.”

You need to take care of your whole self. 

Get enough sleep.

“You need a schedule and you need to get eight hours of sleep,” Rogers said. She suggests setting an alarm to tell you when to go to bed, as well as when to get up.

This seems very simple, but inadequate sleep can cause your bodyto release more cortisol (the stress hormone) that can cause inflammation in your skin, which can manifest as acne or psoriasis. 

Remember to exercise.

You’ve probably heard that exercisecauses your body to release endorphins, those wonderful little morphine-like hormone molecules that elevate your mood.

Exercise also burns cortisone, Rogers said, making it a great way to reduce stress and anxiety and help keep your skin clear.

What if you’re exercising more?

“Exercise elevates testosterone levels, which can wake up acne,” Rogers said.

If you find yourself working out more than once a day because, well, you have the time, just remember to wash your face before and after (as well as taking a shower post workout).

“Please don’t sit around in your sweat,” said Nazanin Saedi, director of the Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Centre at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, “and wash your face.”

What about all that sun you’re not getting?

We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen to protect our skin from harmful UV rays, but what happens when we spend too much time inside? First, our bodies still need vitamin D, so consider taking a supplement or getting a UV light, Rogers said. 

Supplements or UV lights can help boost the vitamin D levels of those who can't get outside.

“Many people are inside in dry, conditioned environments,” Saedi said, “and this can lead to drier skin.” She suggests using a humidifier to help put some moisture into the air. (A bonus: Recent research shows that high temperature and high relative humidity may reduce the transmission of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus). “Also, try not to take too many long, hot showers: the hot water sucks the moisture out of your skin.”

Wash your face. Just not too much. 

“If you over-wash,” Saedi said, “you’re stripping the natural oils, so your skin will start producing more.” She suggests usingbenzoyl peroxide once a week and sticking to washing your face once or twice a day.

If you’re prone to skin problems, use aglycolic acid-based product to help get rid of dead skin. Saedi also recommendsa topical Vitamin C serum every day to brighten the skin.

Use skin masks, peels and exfoliators with caution.

With extra time on your hands, you might be tempted to indulge in all kinds of masks, exfoliators and peels. Rogers cautions about getting carried away with these kinds of treatments.

“You could really be jacking your skin,” she said. “All of that exfoliating and peeling affects your skin’s acid mantle. You have good bacteria and bad bacteria. You don’t want to get rid of all your good stuff. If you over treat, your pH levels go up and that can lead to skin problems.”

Don’t forget to moisturise after you wash your hands.

We’re all washing our hands much more often (or we should be!). Saedi said she’s been seeing a lot more hand eczema cases with her patients.

“All that washing and hand sanitiser dries out the skin,” she said. Many people are experiencing cracked and chapped hands. “If your hands are cracking,Vaseline is one of the best things you can use.”

You don’t even have to buy one of Vaseline’s hand lotions, you can just use the regular, original petroleum jelly if you want.

Avoid picking and scratching in your newfound free time.

Both Rogers and Saedi caution against excessive skin picking and scratching.

“Thirty percent of people pick at their skin,” Rogers said. Times of stress and anxiety can make people pick more than they normally would. The most common areas that women pick are the neck and back, while men tend to pick at the skin on their calves.

If you notice yourself picking at a higher intensity than you’d like, Rogers suggests using an ice pack or a package of frozen vegetables to quiet your nerves. “Nerves can’t itch and be cold at the same time,” she said, “so the ice cold will stop the itchy feeling.”

Running out of skin care? There are household items you can use. 

While none of the following should necessarily make up your entire regular skin routine, Rogers said that coconut oil has been shown to help with eczema and blocked pores. “Don’t put on your face, though,” she said.

You can, however, use castor oil on your face. As a source of triglycerides (which help retain moisture in the skin), ricinoleic (an anti-inflammatory) and other fatty acids, castor oil can be beneficial to your skin. Just keep in mind that there isn’t a lot of real research about the use of home cooking oils so results can vary.

“If you have a dry scalp and hair, sleep with some olive oil massaged into your scalp and it should help,” Rogers added. 

“All in all, take advantage of being less rushed,” Saedi said, “Take care of yourself. Moisturise. Be compliant with your skin care regime. If you’ve haven’t had time in the past to stick to a routine, now is an excellent opportunity to do that.”

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