comScore

Why have my dreams been so fuckin' weird lately?

Another pregnancy dream? Apocalypse each night? You're not alone.

Another pregnancy dream? Apocalypse each night? You're not alone. Arexandra Gorn, Unsplash.com

You’ve probably noticed that while your life has been relatively low-octane since this whole stay at home order, your dreams have been off the chain. Reports of weird dreams – some COVID-19 related, some decidedly not – have been surging nationwide for the past few weeks.

The good…ish… news is that this is very typical for periods of national or international stress throughout history. Right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, people conjured up a lot of fire and airplanes in their sleep. The dreamers of Nazi Germany had strange visions about menacing agencies that didn’t exist in the real world, like the “Bureau of Verification of Aryan Descent,” or the “Office of Testing the Honesty of Aliens.”

These days, it’s just more likely to be people coughing on you. Or the government collapsing.

“Sleep is just inherently fascinating,” says Michael Howell,??associate professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota, who thinks about sleep and dreams even when everything's fine. “It’s a third of our lives… and it’s critically important to brain and body health.”

We tend to think about sleep as sort of a blanket period of unconsciousness. That’s not really the case, Howell says. We really bob in and out of cycles of lighter and deeper sleep, waking up every now and again to start the whole process over. The wild visisons people are experiencing during coronavirus happen in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle – the most intense period of sleep.

The REM cycle’s job is to consolidate emotionally salient memories, like those times we almost crashed our cars, or embarrassed ourselves in public, or were unprepared for important meetings. It does this not to punish us, but to make us more prepared for the future. In order to be safe and happy, we have to learn how to be more careful and behave in more socially acceptable ways. It’s the reason why nearly everybody’s had a dream about being at school in their underwear.

“We’re living in this totally emotionally intense world where we’re scared of touching door handles… we’re worried about us getting our parents sick, we’re worried about social stigma of going to the grocery store and forgetting your mask,” Howell says. Your brain is trying to soak it all up at once and make you more prepared for the next day -- or the next pandemic.

It might “twist” a few details, however – REM is a consolidator, after all. If it can throw in your weird estranged cousin with your coronavirus fears and get you a two-for-one, it will. Or, it might let you dream about something that hasn’t actually happened, but you worry might. (Howell used to dream a lot about his then 3-year-old running out into traffic and getting hit by a car. Thankfully, she never has.)

Your brain is trying to make sense of a complex cocktail of fear, anticipation, social isolation, and aversion to shame.

Of course, not every dream is a direct analogue to our strange reality. There are a few too many accounts of giving birth to dogs and proposals from high school buddies out there for that to be the case. That’s also to be expected, Howell says.

“Under periods of stress, your brain reverts to other kinds of stress,” Howell says. It looks to your other fears for helpful precedents.

That’s not especially helpful to us in the moment. We still need sleep, after all, and there’s not a lot we can do to stop the pandemic other than staying home and washing our hands. One thing you can do, Howell says, is make sure your sleep rhythm stays the same. Get up when you’d otherwise get up, go to bed when you’d otherwise go to bed, eat, exercise, have a cocktail, or socialize when you otherwise would under normal circumstances.

“You can maintain some degree of a normal routine,” he says.

And take a minute, he adds, to appreciate the complex sorting/survival machine that is your brain. Take care of it, and it’ll keep taking care of you.

Had a weird pandemic dream lately? Drop us a line. We might just share it in a future article. As a bonus, here are some of the recent dreams of the City Pages staff.

“I’m not me. I’m the oldest of three sisters: Michelle, Marie, and Meg. (Ugh, I know.) Marie and Meg are sick with some kind of evil demon disease, and our parents are in Sweden or something, so it’s up to me, MICHELLE, to take care of it. I Skype with some kind of a religious doctor who tells me to bathe them in holy water until my parents can get home and do something more substantive.

“So there I am, keeping an eye on two baths at the same time. Meg seems to be doing fine, but Marie’s just getting worse. She’s developing a nasty looking lesion on her arm. I wonder aloud why the treatment isn’t working, and Marie admits that it’s the holy water doing the damage in the first place. That’s right – middle sis was a li’l bebe demon the whole time.

“So, for the rest of the dream, I get Marie out of the bath and towel all the holy water off, because demon or not, I’m not about to narc on my sister.”

- Staff writer Hannah Jones

Content warning: Kind of a gory one, so if that’s going to ruin your day, go ahead and skip it.

“In the worst (and conveniently, most vivid!) dream I've had so far during isolation times, I was hanging out at home when a small crab scuttled across the floor. I wanted to get him outside without hurting the poor fella, so I turned a glass over him like you would if you were trying to save a spider. But in doing so I accidentally crushed two of his little legs. It felt bad!

“I guess I went away to do some other dream-things for a bit, and eventually I came back to take the crab outside. (Dream me is clearly very busy, much too busy to trap and remove troublesome critters at the same time.) I scooped some paper under the cup to flip him, and when I did, it turned out that the crab was actually my cat Ripley. Whose back legs were horribly, disgustingly, absolutely-beyond-repair maimed. I was screaming and crying and trying to find a vet that was open when I woke up.”

- Editor in chief Em Cassel

“I've had two pregnancy dreams recently. In one, I ran into an old drag queen friend who I haven't seen in awhile. He was completely made up, and I was surprised to see that he was also very pregnant. He went into labor while we were catching up, so we went to the hospital together and I kept him company while he waited for his husband to show up. This drag queen is a cis male IRL, but it seemed so real at the time! A few days later I had a dream that my aunt was super pregnant. She's in her 70s.”

- Arts editor Jessica Armbruster

"I was driving across Chicago because I needed to get to my new meatpacking/cattle ranching job in-but-on-the-other-side-of-the-city when I encountered a giant (four story tall?) aquarium tank that was cracking and leaking water after a battleship had run into it, all because I was forced to take a detour due to road construction."

- Food editor Sarah Brumble

“Ok so I'm kind of in rural Minnesota, and it's pretty deserted. Lots of dirt patches and garbage everywhere. No people, real Twilight Zone vibes. I left the house to look for M&Ms because I'm trying to make M&M cookies -- which is already weird, because this is not my go-to cookie, you know? Like if I'm going to risk an ‘essential run’ for a cookie it would be something else. I digress.

“The town only has a gas station and I'm scouring it and finally find one bag of M&Ms but all the green ones are apple flavored? A Skittles type of situation? Terrible candy combo, won't do for my cookies, I leave the shop. I notice outside there are some oblong things - big ole M&Ms I wonder? NO they're Easter eggs. But like, significantly larger eggs. Think softball-sized. I pick up one and squeeze it and cracks like a normal egg in my hand. Weird. Is anyone even looking for these? I get over it, I continue on.

“I see a single pole, I climb it without hesitation and at the top I bend backwards and my back cracks SO GOOD.

“That's it. That's literally the whole dream. If you feel you wasted your time reading this please know that I wasted my entire night dreaming this.”

- Layout editor Shelby Lano

“My dreams themselves haven't undergone much change during quarantine, at least the ones I can recall. But many a morning lately, I've woken up and, just for the first split second, thought/hoped that maybe the whole pandemic thing was just a very vivid nightmare. The moment after that one is a real kick in the face.”

- Copy chief Bridgette Reinsmoen

久久影院-国产久久亚洲美女久久