If youre having more nightmares then you might be quaradreaming and youre not alone, experts say – pennlive.com

If youve been experiencing vivid unpleasant dreams or nightmares more frequently, youre not alone, and experts say theres an explanation for this phenomenon.

A CNN Health report said that according to sleep experts, these experiences result from a combination of pandemic-fueled sleep changes, laced with a years worth of stress.

The news outlet cited sleep specialist, Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, who said: My patients have been coming in and telling me, I have vivid dreams, I remember my dreams, I have nightmares.

This is something that weve seen in other traumatic events that occur around the world and in our country, he added. So the fact that were having more nightmares during this pandemic doesnt surprise me.

The phenomenon started a year ago.

About a year ago, shortly after lockdowns began around the world, frontline workers were hit hard. The report said that a June 2020 study of 100 Chinese nurses found 45% experienced nightmares, along with varying degrees of anxiety and depression.

However, as quarantines and lockdowns have lingered on, nightmares have continued, and experts explain that one reason for this is an increase in night owls, the report said.

How does being a night owl contribute to having nightmares?

During the pandemic, more people have been working remotely, so without a commute or more set schedule, people began going to bed later and later as the pandemic wore on, Dasgupta said. Of course, they then sleep in later than normal, setting the stage for vibrant, colorful -- even scary -- dreams, the report cited.

The reason for this is that when sleeping in theres more time allotted for a deeper stage of sleep called rapid eye movement, or REM. Its during REM that the body consolidates and stores memories and restores the body, the report explained.

CNN cited clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Michael Breus, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctors 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, who said that a long stretch of REM occurs in the latter part of the night, typically just before you wake up.

Add in the worry, anxiety and stress of the pandemic, Breus said, and you have the perfect recipe for nightmares.

The phenomenon is not new.

Breus said, When youre getting more REM during stressful times, you get more REM nightmares. Were calling this phenomenon quaradreaming.

During times of national stress, disturbing dreams are not uncommon. The report noted that for military veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, or PTSD, nightmares have always been a key issue.

Rebecca Robbins, an associate scientist at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston who studies sleep, and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, said when the novel coronavirus hit, studies began documenting trauma-related dreams in the US.

Robbins, added, Theres some really compelling examples of individuals ... reporting dreams about locusts swarming, and things like that.

Deirdre Barrett, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of several books on dreams, told The Harvard Gazette in May that her online quiz last spring documented numerous nightmares about insects.

Ive just seen dozens and dozens and dozens of every kind of bug imaginable attacking the dreamer, Barrett said.

There are armies of cockroaches racing at the dreamer; there are masses of wriggling worms; there were some grasshoppers with vampire fangs; there are bed bugs, stink bugs, she said, adding that upsetting dreams also contained other metaphors for the coronavirus such as tsunamis and tornadoes and hurricanes and earthquakes and fires breaking out and mass shooters in the streets, the news outlet cited.

The report noted that some dreams focused on fears of getting the virus, with dreamers seeing themselves out in public without a mask, where others coughed on them. Then, as quarantines continued, dreams focused on being trapped.

Barrett said, People who are sheltering at home alone will dream that theyve been locked up in prison, or one woman was sent to Mars by herself to establish the first one-person Mars colony, the report cited.

Barrett noted another type of trauma nightmare reported by doctors and nurses in intensive care units -- the type that can occur in other stages of sleep besides REM, she added.

Theyre having full-on nightmares, she said. They tend to involve taking care of someone whos dying of COVID-19, and theyre trying to do something like put a patient on a respirator, or get the tube reattached thats come off a respirator, or the respirator machines are not working.

Thats their nightmare. Its the worst moment from their daytime experiences, Barrett said.

Those dreams persist.

Tragically, those dreams persist today as the virus continues, Dasgupta explained. Adding that its not only frontline workers experiencing nightmares, but also many people who have been hospitalized and survived the virus, the report cited.

Im an ICU doctor, he said. Patients are not on the ventilator for days -- were often talking weeks to months. Theyre on medications, theyre lonely, its scary, so of course, they have post-traumatic stress nightmares, CNN cited.

What can people do?

CNN cited Robbins, who explained that, people with vivid, frightening nightmares that haunt them or lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression should seek the help of a mental health professional. She added, Especially if theyre particularly disturbing, and persist.

For those experiencing less stressful quaradreams, the report explains that there are some things one can do to help -- but, one should not hesitate to seek professional help.

For tips to help lessen the occurrence of nightmares, read an expanded version of this report via CNN.

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If youre having more nightmares then you might be quaradreaming and youre not alone, experts say - pennlive.com

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