Interpreting sweet dreams and COVID nightmares

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Sleep was once thought of as a passive activity during which the body and brain were dormant, but it turns out that sleep is a period during which the brain is highly active and engaged. The better we sleep, the more we dream. Times of great anxiety, like the pandemic, produce vivid recurring dreams that include swarms of insects, jails, and losing one’s mask. Lucid dreams, unlike COVID dreams, are creative and more positive in nature, and the sleeper is able to create their own state of consciousness.

Deirdre Barrett provides tips on how to control repetitive anxiety dreams.  Photo courtesy of Deirdre Barrett

Jonathan Bastian talks with Deirdre Barrett, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, about the mysteries of dream sleep and how dreams have changed over the course of the pandemic. Barrett provides tips on how to control repetitive anxiety dreams. Has “forgetting to wear a mask” become the new “naked in public” dream? 

"The Red Lamb." Art courtesy of Deirdre Barrett.



  • Deirdre Barrett - Assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, whose books include “The Committee of Sleep” and “Trauma and Dreams,”


Andrea Brody