‘COVID-somnia’ -- how pandemic impacts sleep, dreams

Researchers find people reporting pandemic-specific dreams as they struggle to find good sleep

Sleep neurologists have dubbed it “COVID-somnia.”

They’re seeing an increase in patients suffering from insomnia, sleep disturbances and the misuse of sleep medications. The pandemic is even impacting our dreams, and not for the better.

Researchers in Finland used artificial intelligence to analyze the dreams of nearly 800 people. More than half of them reported dreams that were pandemic-specific.


The dreams consisted of themes like failures in social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and the coronavirus spreading. More than 1/4 of the participants also reported more frequent nightmares since the pandemic began.

This kind of sleep disturbance has been documented before following tsunamis, earthquakes and other disasters.

A different survey found people dreaming about symbols of financial stress, going back to work and homeschooling.

Sleep experts say it’s not surprising so many people are having trouble sleeping. Disrupted schedules, work stress, shifting family responsibilities and fears about the virus itself can all contribute.

Many people are feeling depressed as the pandemic drags on, too.

However, it’s important to note that some people actually are sleeping more these days because they no longer have to get up early or feel stressed about their commute.

Sticking to a sleep schedule, getting regular exercise and enough time outdoors will help if you are struggling to get good sleep. You’ll also want to avoid screen time before bed.

About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.