COVID and sleep: sweet dreams aren’t made of this

(Kelli Miller/ WebMD) — Dreaming of better days? Beach vacations? How about … bugs?

Shutdowns and sheltering in place are giving us lots of extra time to nap and sleep. In fact, since the coronavirus pandemic pressed pause on our lives, America’s time asleep has jumped nearly 20%. But instead of waking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you might end up feeling, well, somewhat bug-eyed.

Vivid dreams about bug attacks top the list of crazy COVID-19 nightmares, says Deirdre Barrett, PhD, a Harvard psychologist and dream researcher who launched an international survey about pandemic-related dreams. From “swarms of wasps, flies, and gnats to armies of roaches and wiggly worms,” bug attacks are “by far the most common metaphor” seen in the more than 8,000 dreams reported on her survey since March.

“I think part of it traces to the slang use of the word; we say we have a bug to mean we have a virus,” says Barrett. “Dreams can be kind of pun-like in using visual images for words.” (…)

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