So apparently this is why you might have had more nightmares over the last few years

·2-min read
Photo credit: JGI/Tom Grill/Blend Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: JGI/Tom Grill/Blend Images - Getty Images

Dreams, they're a right funny bunch, eh? Whether it's the classic on-stage-with-no-clothes-on saga or a very detailed yet very wild storyline about developing superpowers, we all dream... even if we don't actually remember doing so. But, if you're a vivid dreamer, you might have noticed that you've been having more nightmares than usual over the last few years.

As for what's caused the increase in nightmares, you can thank the panny-d. Yep, just when we thought we'd seen it all when it comes to COVID-19 side effects, one study has discovered that bad dreams may be linked to the disease.

Sharing the findings in the Nature and Science of Sleep journal, the study revealed that nightmare frequency was significantly higher in participants who had tested positive for COVID-19 compared to those who hadn't.

"We are beginning to understand some of the long-term consequences of the virus including physical, cognitive and mental health changes," the researchers behind the study said. "Given these changes, it is very likely that there are notable differences in sleep and dreaming that come subsequently to infection."

Photo credit: AzmanL - Getty Images
Photo credit: AzmanL - Getty Images

"So-called 'pandemic dreams' have provided a unique window on the psychological and physiological effects of the pandemic," the study's author, Luigi De Gennaro, noted. "We've increased our rate of dream recall, our lucid dreams, and above all, our nightmares," De Gennaro added, pointing out that the findings have been observed in participants across the globe and throughout different stages of the pandemic.

The researcher also explained that, notably, nightmares are related to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), possibly indicating that the pandemic has triggered this in some people. "Nightmares are a common symptom of PTSD," De Gennaro said, "and [this] phenomena points to relevant and long-lasting symptoms of PTSD."

Part of the study also looked at how those with long COVID-19 have been affected when it comes to their dreaming habits. "There is another relevant phenomenon concerning people with long COVID," De Gennaro continued. "Although not yet published, I anticipate that nightmares also are one of the most frequent reported symptom of this syndrome."

As for what can be done to help those suffering with bad dreams, the NHS notes that treatment for nightmares in adults depends on the cause. "If you're having nightmares caused by a traumatic event, a GP may recommend psychological treatment such as counselling," the NHS website advises. "If you have a condition that affects your sleep, treatment will usually involve trying to manage the condition better."

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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