Community Psychiatry’s Pavan Madan was featured in Healthline discussing the topic of strange dreams during the pandemic.

If you’re waking up more often thinking, “That was a weird dream,” the stress of current events may be to blame.

“Given that a lot of pretty unprecedented events have occurred over the past few months, it is not surprising that many people are experiencing weird dreams. Part of it is control. Most people have had almost no control over how the pandemic has spread and affected their lives,” Dr. Pavan Madan, a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry, told Healthline.

Madan said while cognitively people understand and accept the recommendations for COVID-19, the mind does not like to deal with things that it cannot control or predict, such as the pandemic and acts of racial discrimination.

All of the emotions triggered by these stressful events ruminate during sleep.

Because dreams are often a reflection of the subconscious mind, anxiety plays a part when it comes to disturbing dreams, adds Madan.

“Even if we are not consciously thinking about it, many people are anxious about yet another bizarre crisis that is beyond their control. It is possible that our minds are now weaving possible absurd scenarios that can play out, perhaps to prepare us in case we face another crisis,” he said.

With many people out of work or working from home, and as shifts in socializing occur, there are fewer distractions and more time to reflect on what’s happening in the world.

“These reflections may also be playing a role in bringing strange thoughts and dreams,” said Madan.

4. Practice self-care

Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, which can both disrupt sleep, is one way to help your body. Also, exercising and practicing mindfulness strategies like breathing techniques or yoga can help calm your mind, says Madan.

“Some people benefit from listening to calming music or audiobooks, reading an informative but boring book, or using other sensory faculties to calm themselves at night. Taking a shower, consuming chamomile tea or inhaling lavender oil have also been suggested to have a calming effect,” he said.

Because it can be hard to avoid thinking about the stresses going on, Madan suggests assigning a time to “worry” or contemplate during the day, so that you can allow yourself to sleep at night.

5. Talk about your stress and anxiety

Rather than pushing aside your worries, consider talking about them with a loved one or therapist.

“The more we process these thoughts consciously, the less they might bother us at night. Talk to your therapist about cognitive and behavior techniques that can help you reduce your anxious thoughts at night,” said Madan.

He points to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), a specialized therapy designed to address insomnia.

“Although CBT-I is best done under the guidance of a trained therapist, you may get started on it by reading books written on CBT-I,” he said.

If you live with an anxiety disorder, which can cause the release of stress hormones as well as insomnia, Madan says it’s particularly important to talk with a therapist about the best therapy and treatments for sleep issues.

“Be careful with taking sleep medications, as they can have adverse side effects, including dependence potential,” he said.


Click here to read the entire article on Healthline.

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