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Weird dreams or insomnia? Here's why sleep patterns change in quarantine

Vivid dreams can be spontaneous, but usually stress and anxiety plays a role when real life situations creep into your dreams.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For some, the COVID-19 pandemic has made even sleep feel stressful. Several people have developed issues with their sleep during self-isolation. Experts predict that even more people could experience issues as they try to fall asleep as the pandemic continues.

Vivid dreams, good or bad, can feel real. They can be spontaneous and random, but stress and anxiety can play a role if dreams start feeling too real. Many times, something may happen in a dream that will make you feel as stressed as you are in the real world.

Maybe you're flying, naked in front of a crowded room of strangers, or there’s a bad guy chasing you. Either way, you'll feel stressed.

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In order to find the meaning behind dreams, psychologist Jenn Hardy suggested shifting focus from characters to what you feel.

“When people have a reoccurring nightmare, I tell them, ‘We've got to figure out where the dream is coming from, so we can stop it,’” said Hardy.  “That is the most effective way to stop the dream. Figure out what situation your stuck in. Deal with it in real life and get them unstuck. It shifts the dream.”  

Hardy suggests writing down how you feel while reflecting on your dream to see how you feel, as well as how that emotion is showing up in your life.

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From vivid dreams to insomnia, many people are looking for a good night's rest. Too many sleepless nights can affect your overall health and wellness. Pandemic stress and anxiety could be a reason why you're not getting rest like you use to.

Fears surrounding the pandemic can cause a shift in most people's sleep patterns. Sleep and stress go hand-in-hand because one can affect the other.

According to the Sleep Foundation, poor sleep makes it hard to concentrate, makes people feel less energetic and can make a person feel overwhelmed.

“A lot of people when they wake-up they have an emotional reaction to waking up,” said Hardy. “They could be really mad or really sad, maybe even upset or in a panic. Those are very hard emotional states to fall back asleep in, so then we stay awake longer.”

According to Hardy, creating a new bedtime routine could help kids and adults. She suggests:  

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Turning off the lights and putting away electronics
  • Picking a consistent bedtime
  • Reflecting on positive thoughts in the last moments before you go to sleep

Something as simple as getting a good night's rest can be the first step to reducing stress in your life.