Dream Recall Is Linked To COVID Stress Levels, Study Finds

Most strikingly, the people who’d had the most pronounced changes in their dreaming—including having more upsetting dreams than usual and remembering more dreams than usual—were the people who’d been most intensely impacted by the pandemic.

“The people whose dream lives have been most negatively impacted are also those who have been personally effected on a physical level (either they or a significant other caught the virus), on a social level (suffering from the social restrictions), and/or a mental level (depression, anxiety, etc.),” Michael Schredl, Ph.D., and Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D., the dream researchers behind the study, explain in the paper on their findings. “This shows that changes in dreaming can help to identify those persons who may be suffering the most due to the pandemic.”

In other words, the more negative or vivid a person’s dreams have been lately, the more likely it is that that this person is particularly struggling with effects of COVID, whether because of loneliness, loved ones getting sick, job loss, or other challenges.

“These findings support the notion that changes in the frequency, tone, and contents of dreaming can help identify specific people who may be most at risk for mental health problems during the pandemic,” the researchers explain.

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