Monday 5 October 2020

The Scary COVID Symptom Even Healthy People Are Having

For research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology on Oct. 1, scientists analyzed the dreams reported by 811 people in Finland. They reported 55% of their bad dreams experienced during a COVID-19 lockdown were related to the pandemic. They also reported sleeping longer, having more nightmares and waking up more during the night, compared to the period before the pandemic. 

A "Shared Mindscape"?

The Finnish researchers compiled the dream topics into clusters, and found several common nightmare themes, which involved "failures in social distancing, coronavirus contagion, personal protective equipment, dystopia, and apocalypse."

"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," said Dr. Anu-Katriina Pesonen, lead author of the study and head of the Sleep&Mind Research Group at the University of Helsinki.

Gallery: This Is How You're Making Your Depression Worse (Best Life)

a young boy sitting on a sofa: Nearly one in five adults in the United States lives with some kind of mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health—that's about 50 million people. And due to COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are more people than ever dealing with some form of the condition. In a report issued in June 2020, the CDC analyzed survey responses and other data, concluding that people in the U.S. were experiencing "elevated levels" of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance issues in June 2020, compared with similar periods of time prior to the pandemic.The good news is that when it comes to depression, whether you have been diagnosed with the condition in its clinical form or are just feeling especially low due to what's going on in the world, there are things that you can do—or in this case stop doing—to make the experience a little bit more manageable. Here are a few of the ways you're making your depression worse. And to help you feel a little less alone when it comes to your mental health, check out Celebrities That Have Spoken About Their Depression.Read the original article on Best Life.

In another study published in the Sept. 25 issue of the journal Dreaming, Harvard researcher Dierdre Bennett collected the dreams of nearly 2,888 people between March and June. She found that people said they remembered more of their dreams than they did pre-pandemic, while women reported a higher increase in anxiety dreams and dreams about death than men. Women reported having more dreams involving sadness and anger, while such an increase was not relayed by men. 

Barrett found that common dreams included contracting COVID, along with metaphorical dreams about natural disasters or violence. Early in the pandemic, many people dreamed about insects and monsters, Barrett told NBC News. "I noted several kinds of flying bugs, swarming," she said, nothing that some study subjects dreamed of "masses of wriggling worms coming toward them, or armies of cockroaches running toward them."

Nightmares are a common response to stress and trauma, but bug attack dreams seem specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barrett has never seen those in dream studies of witnesses to traumatic events like 9/11 or World War II, she told LiveScience.

"Repeated, intense nightmares may refer to post-traumatic stress. The content of dreams is not entirely random, but can be an important key to understanding what is the essence in the experience of stress, trauma and anxiety," said Pesonen.

How to head off nightmares

So if COVID is haunting your dreams, you're definitely not alone. But there is a strategy you can try to stem pandemic-related nightmares, Barrett told NBC News. Before bed, visualize something specific you want to dream about after you fall asleep. "It might be a favorite person who you're not able to be with during the pandemic, or a place you'd like to visit after the pandemic," she said. Making this choice gives the mind "a competing agenda," she added.

Turning off screens at least 30 minutes before bed was recommended by sleep experts before the pandemic to help ensure a good night's rest. It's especially important now, and you might want to try to extend that time. Other studies have found that poor quality sleep negatively affects everything from weight to heart health to cancer risk.

And do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest.

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