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A team studying under anthropologist Dr. David Samson, who posits that humanity evolved to have dreams and nightmares as a means of training for real-world threats, collected dream and sleep data from 84 students hailing from 22 countries around the world.
Where possible, the participants provided detailed descriptions of their dreams during the early lockdown phase of the pandemic, which were then sorted into five themes related to characters, social interactions, settings, emotions and misfortunes.
As expected, anxiety, fear and confusion were the most commonly reported emotions. Respondents also claimed their dreams were more vivid than before and that nightmares were more common than good dreams.
In the UT Mississauga study, some 33 percent of respondents reported pandemic-specific dreams, including about PPE and social distancing failures, among other negative coronavirus-related occurrences.
“It seems that dreams are related to outside stressors, and that they might have a sort of function. Further analysis may support this idea of threat simulation,” says study author and graduate research student Leela McKinnon.
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