Social media feeds are suddenly rife with “I just had the weirdest dream” posts. Is it because we’re sleeping more? Less? Is quarantine causing us to go stir-crazy? We have so many questions! So we pinged our favorite registered nurse, author, and spiritual advisor Steffany Barton of Angel’s Insight in Leawood for some wisdom on why your subconscious may be consciously keeping you from losing your marbles.
Is just me or are our dreams getting more vivid now that we’re quarantined? Why is that?
“If the eyes are the window to our soul, then dreams are a doorway to our emotions. Yes, it is common and healthy for dreams to change during times of intense emotions and tremendous uncertainty.
Right now, we are all knee-deep in the muck together. During our waking hours, we focus our energies on tasks and processes that move us forward in life; activities such as hand washing, budgeting, holding down work, educating kids, fixing meals, and staying current of the latest health recommendations occupy a good bit of our energy. We go through the motions.
At night, however, we go through the emotions.
As our task-oriented mind simmers down, our mood heats up. We work through how we feel about the knee-deep muck. Anxiety, uncertainly, doubt, fear, and anger come out in full force in symbolic form. The more intense our emotions, the more vivid becomes our dreams. Additionally, since we are sheltering at home, stimulation and distraction from the outside world is significantly less. This means more of our energy can be invested in the inner world instead. Less outer engagement allows us to have more inner awareness. Dreams are a powerful component of our inner world.”
What do I need to be mindful of? Any particular recurring themes?
“Be mindful of your sleep environment. Social distance yourself from all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Creating a soothing environment, a haven from the storms of the world, can help promote restful sleep.
As for the content of dreams, remember that most dreams are symbolic, not literal. If you dream about a loved one becoming ill or lost, for example, try to avoid thinking the dream is a harbinger of doom. Part of the benefit of dreams is that we can play through different emotional scenarios. Think of it like going to a clothing store and trying on different outfits, except without the ghastly mirrors and unforgiving lighting.”
If my dreams are getting weird, does that mean I’m getting weird?
“Not at all! Often the weirder the dream, the deeper you’ve allowed yourself to dive into the hidden world. Think of the sea creatures who live on the ocean floor—way, way down in the deepest darkest depths. Some of those suckers are crazy weird! Core, primal, deep emotions adapt and manifest in a similar way.”
People say to write down dreams to analyze later. Fact or fiction?
“Writing dreams down could be useful now as a way to get in touch with our emotions. During these intense and extraordinary times, however, our dreams are highly situational. Retrospection may not be advantageous. I would say journaling each day would be a better and more reliable way to look back and learn.”
Do you think people are sleeping better or worse nowadays?
“Overall, I think both the quality and quantity of sleep has taken a huge hit. We need rest more, but we are getting less.”
Any suggestions for calming your mind before bed?
“Besides the social media social distancing, I find it helpful to have some sort of nightly routine unwind. For example, light a candle and watch the flame dance for several moments. Listen to soft music before going to bed. Another overlooked but effective tool is to intend what you will dream about. Before I go to bed, for example, I might tell myself, ‘Tonight I am going to dream about a peaceful cabin in the mountains.’ It often works.
The most important thing to remember is that we will get through this. Rest is so important for the body and mind, so nap, zone out, meditate, and sleep. Sweet dreams!”
—Steffany Barton is an RN, author, and intuitive medium whose work has been featured on local and national radio and TV. She lives in Leawood with a menagerie of children, cats, birds, and tortoises. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.angelsinsight.com