Having Wildly Chaotic COVID Dreams? You’re Not Alone

There are a few potential reasons why your dreams have gone off the deep end.

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We’re one week into 2022 and if you’ve made it this far without contracting COVID-19, consider yourself very lucky.

I — as well as quite literally every one of my friends — have contracted the virus this week, and while it sucks that there’s nobody to bring me groceries, this simultaneous infection has allowed me to compare symptoms. And one slightly unexpected symptom it seems we are all experiencing is having incredibly vivid and chaotic dreams.

In my 23 years of life, I have experienced my fair share of truly cooked dreams, but nothing could have prepared me for the absolute unhinged mess of COVID fever dreams. And, as it turns out, I’m not the only one who has experienced this.

How Weird Are These Dreams?

Personally, I was ravaged with bizarre dreams in which I murdered my non-existent boyfriend, hid the murder weapon in my haunted house and got away with it, and I thought this sort of weird dream was a ‘me’ thing. But it turns out other COVID sufferers had just as bad — if not worse — experiences with the phenomenon.

The common theme among the dreams, from my anecdotal — not at all scientific — research is that they’re all pretty violent or scary. Think: eaten alive, murder, being chased, death, that sort of kettle of fish.

Sure, there were some outliers — like my friend who wholesomely dreamed they made cookies but forgot the flour or another who dreamed they took their best friend’s two-year-old son to a Korn concert. But for the most part, the dreams are far less warm and fuzzy.

We’ve got being stabbed by your neighbour, being eaten alive by a wolf or dog-like creature, or living in some sort of hell-ish Survivor game:

“I had a dream where I was being chased by serial killers and the noises freaked me the fuck out until I woke up and realised it was the possum on my roof.”

Other dreams were less horror movie scary and more like a weird acid trip you had at a music festival sort of scary. For example, “my bed grew giant legs and was walking me through a rainforest” or “fell through my bed onto a raft made of paddle pops floating down a lava river into a canyon.”

But perhaps the most interesting thing I found from my research is that there also seems to be a common theme among COVID fever dreams of dreaming about, well, COVID.

“I had dreams about COVID testing and was waking up every half an hour just to fall into the same dream again, where I had to constantly go and get a PCR test over and over again,” one person said.

“I had a super vivid dream about having COVID but having to hide it from everyone, including my high school ex, my grandmother who is no longer alive and basically every teacher or mentor I’ve ever had. If they started to catch onto it, everything would start to turn black and white, like when you get wasted in GTA,” another added.

What Does The Science Say?

Fever dreams are hardly a new concept, but scientists are still pretty unsure what exactly causes them. Some researchers have speculated your heightened temperature can cause an “overheated brain” which can impact your cognitive processing. Others have put it down to fevers having a tendency to interrupt your REM sleep, which can cause some cooked dreams.

“We don’t exactly know why fever makes dreams more vivid and disturbing, although one theory is that the brain doesn’t process sensations normally when we have a fever,” Beth Malow, MD, a professor in the department of neurology and pediatrics told Health.

“We don’t regulate our body temperature during REM sleep as well as we do during other stages of sleep, and temperature can swing out of control,” she added. “If we get a spike in fever during REM sleep, we may feel more uncomfortable and have micro-arousals (shifts between deep and light sleep). This increases the likelihood of us remembering our dreams.”

What Can You Do About It?

Well, you’ve made it this far, which means you’re probably experiencing COVID fever dreams and want a solution, right? Sadly, there’s no proven solution to fever dreams, but managing your fever is likely the best shot you’ve got at having an uninterrupted night’s sleep without being swallowed by a giant snake or something.

Drinking lots of fluids, taking ibuprofen or paracetamol, and having a lukewarm bath can all help with the management of a fever. Better Health also recommends avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which can cause dehydration, and avoiding taking cold showers as this can actually trap heat in the body.

If you have a fever over 40 degrees, seek medical attention.

Photo Credit: Getty Images