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November 21, 2021 58 min

As the novel coronavirus spread and much of the world moved toward isolation, dream researchers began rushing to design studies and set up surveys that might allow them to access some of the most isolated places of all, the dreamscapes unfolding inside individual brains. The first thing almost everyone noticed was that for many people, their dream worlds seemed suddenly larger and more intense.

One study of more than 1,000 Italians living through strict lockdown found that some 60 percent were sleeping badly — before the pandemic, only a third of Italians reported trouble sleeping — and they were also remembering more of their dreams than during normal times and reporting that those dreams felt unusually real and emotional and bizarre.

Even social media sites, researchers found, were full of people surprised at how much more active and vivid their dream lives had become. “Is it just me?” many of them asked. It was not.

This story was recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.

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