Many people have reported disturbed sleeping patterns and weird dreams during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's hardly surprising that during times of disruption, disturbance and crisis people struggle to calm their minds and enjoy a restful, beneficial, good night's sleep.
COVID-19 has caused upheaval to all our lives. Everything that was familiar or secure has gone and no one has been left unaffected by its presence. People have seen family members, friends, neighbours or colleagues become unwell and maybe die. They may themselves have become unwell for a time.
Businesses have been forced to close, leaving staff and owners potentially without an income, career or business to return to. Schools are only opening for the children of key workers or vulnerable children, meaning that most parents have to educate, feed and manage their children from home whilst possibly trying to still work. Thriving high streets have become ghost towns as we're instructed to stay home and only leave for essential reasons.
Whilst this change of pace has brought with it the opportunity to reevaluate our lives and our priorities the prevailing fear and uncertainty has caused disruption to many people's sleep patterns.
Dreams allow our unconscious minds to process what's going on each day, to review and sometimes revise our perspective as a consequence. You've no doubt heard the phrase, 'sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning', meant to deter us from making any rash or hasty decisions. And yes, often after a good night's sleep a new way of thinking or feeling often does emerge.
But when it's not just us who's affected, when the news channels are saturated with statistics and instructions and we're in uncharted waters it's understandable if these unsettling times cause weird dreams.
Someone shared an interesting dream where people were walking in line, keeping a significant distance apart, with no one looking at each other. Whilst this is very familiar during COVID-19 it also references how detached we're becoming from each other. People are social-distancing, keeping themselves apart. Many people are watching each other, monitoring what customers in shops or their neighbours are doing, becoming suspicious or angry at how others should, must or ought to behave. There's little eye contact made in these situations.
Dreams allow our unconscious minds to work through issues and concerns in an effort to reinstate some semblance of control back into our lives. And so they may include unusual resources, where we're flying, jumping or leaping from one place to another, or perhaps feature a monster, mythical creature or celebrity who introduces special attributes and abilities.
Ways to support better sleep if you've experiencing weird dreams;
During this enforced time of change our diet and drinking habits may be very different. If we're getting up later we may be skipping breakfast or combining breakfast and lunch, rather than grabbing a sandwich and eating on the go. Our coffee habit may be different and alcohol sales have certainly soared. These sudden changes impact on our metabolic rate and affect our sleep and dreams.
- Establish a new daily routine. Getting up at the same time, showering, getting dressed, maybe working, exercising, taking regular meals all introduce order into your life and help you to feel more in control.
- Exercise, especially in the fresh air, is important in relieving stress and supports better sleep and dreaming. Being exercised mentally and physically allows us to tire and feel ready for sleep. If you're unable to walk maybe spend time in your garden or perhaps use one of the many free online exercise classes which offer something for all abilities.
- Be vigilant about diet, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Use this time to perfect your cooking abilities or start baking from scratch, maybe involving other family members too. Avoid the temptation to start drinking alcohol earlier each day, or consuming too much coffee.
- Ration your time watching the news or on social media. Nothing significant is likely to have happened in the last hour so avoid constantly checking for updates. Let yourself be distracted by other, more positive activities.
- Count your blessings. Yes, there's much to be upset about but worrying won't change that. Focus on what you do have; discover benefits, gratitude and smiles throughout each day and notice your stress levels gradually lessen.
- Allocate time for working and being productive. Set up a work station and designate specific hours for work or study. Why not commit to learning a new skill, a foreign language, practicing a musical instrument, reading or craft work. Treat this as important me time.
- Keep in contact with others. A phone call or online group can be a pleasant way to share advice or discuss how you're feeling and coping, especially if you're alone. Maybe send a 'thinking of you' card to someone who's on their own. And many business owners are finding that by being more flexible they're able to keep in touch with customers and continue trading to some extent.
- Record your successes and achievements each day and have treats. A leisurely bath, reading or pamper session are important ways to relax, manage stress and invest in a good night's sleep.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented time. Be gentle with yourself and gradually achieve a more positive mindset. Doing this supports a better night's sleep, with consequently fewer weird dreams.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net