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Published April 22nd 2020

Covid-19: Rise in Reports of Trouble Sleeping, Bad Dreams, and Nightmares

Isolation can feel like a waking nightmare sometimes, and now it appears that nightmares have started seeping into our evening routines.

Using our Consumer Research platform we investigated how people have been sleeping during the pandemic.

Spoiler alert: not well.


A few weeks ago, we covered the rise of #CantSleep in one of our daily data bulletins.

When we looked at the conversation drivers behind this trend, we found that Covid-19 was having a big impact.

Anxiety came up 10k times within that conversation, while news fatigue and stress came up 6k and 5k times respectively.

And now, nightmares

Now we can see another trend emerging, recently finding over a million mentions of weird dreams and nightmares. And these mentions are growing, too.

Emotion-categorized conversation reveals the mentions to be 67% angry, driven by social users’ irritation at not being able to sleep to their usual schedules.

According to 28.8k people, they’ve had the worst nightmares of their lives during the outbreak.

Online reports of sleep paralysis, when a person wakes up but is unable to move, have also increased in recent weeks.

Shared fears

Perhaps influenced by the news, there were 1.4k mentions of nightmares about cruise ships on social media, making it the most common ‘shared’ nightmare we found.

Common settings for dreams point to what seems to be shared trauma, even if it’s just caused by watching the news. It could be a long time before many people are willing to board cruise ships again.

People taking to social platforms to vent their frustrations can be expected, but the volume of social users struggling with bizarre dreams and nightmares indicates that isolation is really beginning to take its toll on mental health.

This analysis originally appeared in our daily Covid-19 data bulletin. Get the latest insights straight to your inbox for free – sign up here.

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