Day 26, or thereabout (what is time?), of lockdown, and we are noticing some weird side effects.
I seem to have fallen into the habit of showering at around 2PM, and I’m completely fine with that.
This is a safe space – you can admit that you, too, are spending an insane amount of time in your pyjamas.
Another spinoff side effect to the lockdown that many are reporting is weird and vivid dreams, with Google searches for “Why am I having weird dreams lately” quadrupling in the past week.
The Telegraph took a closer look, with Miranda Levy asking friends to share their weirdest dreams with her. These stand out:
Two examples: “I had a dream last night that my friend had shrunk her husband to the size of a baby and was carrying him around.”
Or this: “We all went on holiday to a Soviet holiday camp and bumped into Kate Beckinsale, who told me she was still married to my husband and was fuming she hadn’t received £28m separation settlement.”
One acquaintance, with left-wing sympathies, dreamt she was having an affair with Boris Johnson — but only in order to bring down the government.
Given that Boris Johnson can’t seem to stop having sex with women that aren’t his wife or partner, that one is less far fetched.
Miranda spoke with Guy Leschziner, a consultant neurologist, sleep physician, and author of ‘The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience and the Secret World of Sleep’, to find out more about why we’re having these wild dreams.
He says it may have something to do with an increase in REM sleep, which is the part of the sleeping cycle where dreams most often occur:
Sleep scientists hypothesise we’ve been getting more REM sleep since lockdown started and don’t have to leave the house for work or the school run. “We tend to do most of our REM sleep in the latter part of the night,” says Leschziner.
“Historically, most people are sleep-deprived: woken up before is natural by our alarm-clocks. Now many of us don’t have to get up early, we have ‘REM rebound’.”
Michael Grandner, director of the University of Arizona’s sleep programme, puts it thus: “Before, we might have stopped the movie before we got to the interesting part. Now, we might not be doing that.”
Another line of thought is that, in normal times, we usually wake up and focus on getting out of the house and on our way to work, the school run, or gym etc, but we now have the time to recall our dreams, think about them, and analyse them.
For those keen to try and rein in their dreams, here are some tips:
“Think about what relaxes you,” says Guy Leschziner. Exercise helps, as does keeping to a bedtime routine, and not watching the late-evening news. “Basic ‘sleep hygiene’ — limiting caffeine, avoiding screens before bed, not going to bed hungry, going to bed at the same time each night — can lead to a better night,” he says.
At some point, the world will go back to “normal” and we’ll get back to the tyranny of the alarm clock and commute. But, says Leschziner, job insecurity and the continued health risk means anxiety may persist in a lesser form. So prepare yourself for some more interesting nights ahead.
Buckle up for some wild nights ahead.
Some South Africans may be having night terrors about running out of booze or smokes (unless you know a guy who knows a guy), whereas others live in fear of where their next meal may come from.
Whatever your situation, here’s hoping your dreams offer some form of respite (hopefully not involving sex with Boris Johnson).
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