It only took a month for baseball to invade my subconscious. Last night I had a strange dream involving a baseball game in post-pandemic America. There were new procedures in the security lines, and a lot of rules I didn’t understand, but the important parts are that there was baseball followed by an after party where I was hanging out with Joey Votto. The rest of the details are hazy but all I can say is it was a complete let down to wake up to day 32 of pandemic life where baseball is still suspended indefinitely with no realistic plans of bringing it back any time soon.
Hours later I was still thinking about this dream and it reminded me that I’d heard dreams had been a lot more vivid during the pandemic. I did a bit of research and it was pretty clear that while I might be alone in dreaming about Joey Votto, I’m certainly not alone in having bizarre dreams. According to the New York Times the phrase “Why am I having weird dreams lately?” has been googled four times more since the pandemic:
So why are so many people currently alarmed by their dreams?
As the new coronavirus’s grip strengthens to a chokehold, waking life itself for many has taken on an odd, dreamlike air. For populations unexpectedly and indefinitely confined to their homes, timekeeping no longer seems staked to the orderly movements of the sun, but tied to a cloud selected at random.
The surreal reality of American cities and towns also mirrors the half-remembered, half-empty approximations explored in sleep, ordered by the same pliable, foggy logic: Masks are pilloried until they are mandatory; liquor stores open early for sexagenarians only; an invisible plague makes people fall gravely ill seemingly at random; touching anything — everything — is banned.
The article goes on to differentiate the types of dreams and reactions people are processing in their sleep. Clearly there is a pretty big difference between the dreams of an Emergency Room nurse who is fighting the pandemic daily and, well, a baseball blogger. But the key is that we all use REM sleep to process our reality and the sudden changes in all of our lives are impacting our dreams as CNN reports:
According to experts, these cryptic responses are normal. Our brains’ way of understanding the stressful information we take in during the day can manifest in nightmares.
Or we might dream of past chapters in life that were less stressful.
”This [pandemic] is something that they’ve never experienced before,” said sleep medicine expert Dr. Meir Kryger, professor of pulmonary medicine and clinical professor of nursing at Yale School of Medicine.
”And it’s possible that their brains are trying to find a time when things weren’t like that. It’s like when sometimes people are trying to fall asleep and they can’t turn their minds off. They will try to think about a time when things were better.”
The theories behind all of this in both the New York Times piece and the CNN piece are fascinating, but if you want to skip ahead to hearing others experiences and knowing you’re not alone, Twitter has a hashtag for that: #pandemicdreams has all sorts of gems like these:
Wait I'm not the only one having #pandemicdreams? The other night I dreamed my fiancée and I were eating at @Arbys complaining about lack of social distancing when a hotel exploded. Then I went to @Walmart where they were taking Temps and handing out masks before letting you in.— Teddy B (@TeddyB1980) April 13, 2020
I was just in a fire at a parking near a supermarket. #PandemicDreams— Νiki (@Phoebe1_) April 13, 2020
I had a #pandemicdreams too last night.— Lorenzo Viola (@lorenzoviolone) April 10, 2020
I went outside from the house here in the Philippines, but outside it was alleys and passages straight out an italian city like Rome.
I followed my boyffriend, hiding because I didn’t have a quarantine pass or permission to go ... (1/3)
Okay, so apparently I’m the only one dreaming about post-pandemic baseball and after parties with Joey Votto, but at least I know I’m not the only one experiencing completely bizarre dreams. Share your #pandemicdreams in the comments below.