Sleep, Dreams, and Nightmares During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kathryn E.R. Kennedy, Michael A. Grandner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the sleep and dreams of many individuals. Some have experienced improvements, while others have had more complaints. The changes to daily life such as working from home and spending more time indoors in confinement may have disturbed the circadian rhythms of some individuals. There were many reports of a shift towards a later bedtime during the pandemic, with several studies showing that in general, females experienced worse sleep than males, including more nighttime awakenings and nightmares. Increased dream and nightmare frequency during the pandemic has been shown in multiple studies. It has been postulated that because dreams are often guided by the dominant emotional state, that dreams and nightmares related to pandemic themes are a result of specific stressors related to COVID-19. Those experiencing unwanted sleep disturbances and nightmares could stand to benefit from mindfulness and relaxation practices that can ease stress and anxiety before bedtime. Striving to maintain a regular sleep schedule and enhance exposure to daylight–particularly during the first half of the day–may also be helpful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1173
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Sleep
  • dreams
  • nightmares
  • pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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