Nightmares in People with COVID-19: Did Coronavirus Infect Our Dreams?

TitleNightmares in People with COVID-19: Did Coronavirus Infect Our Dreams?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuteursScarpelli, S, Nadorff, MR, Bjorvatn, B, Chung, F, Dauvilliers, Y, Espie, CA, Inoue, Y, Matsui, K, Merikanto, I, Morin, CM, Penzel, T, Sieminski, M, Fang, H, Macêdo, T, Mota-Rolim, SA, Leger, D, Plazzi, G, Chan, NYin, Partinen, M, Bolstad, CJ, Holzinger, B, De Gennaro, L
JournalNat Sci Sleep
Date Published2022

Introduction: A growing number of studies have demonstrated that the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has severely affected sleep and dream activity in healthy people. To date, no investigation has examined dream activity specifically in COVID-19 patients.

Methods: As part of the International COVID-19 Sleep Study (ICOSS), we compared 544 COVID-19 participants with 544 matched-controls. A within-subjects comparison between pre-pandemic and pandemic periods computed separately for controls and COVID-19 participants were performed on dream recall and nightmare frequency (DRF; NF). Also, non-parametric comparisons between controls and COVID-19 participants were carried out. Further, we compared psychological measures between the groups collected during pandemic. Ordinal logistic regression to detect the best predictors of NF was performed.

Results: We found that people reported greater dream activity during the pandemic. Comparisons between controls and COVID-19 participants revealed a) no difference between groups concerning DRF in the pre-pandemic period and during the pandemic; b) no difference between groups concerning nightmare frequency in the pre-pandemic period; and c) COVID-19 participants reported significantly higher NF than controls during pandemic (p = 0.003). Additionally, we showed that a) anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress-disorder (PTSD) symptom scores were higher in COVID-19 participants than controls; and b) quality of life and health as well as wellbeing (WHO-5) scores were significantly higher in controls than COVID-19 participants. Finally, ordinal logistic regression indicates that DRF (p < 0.001), PTSD (p < 0.001), anxiety (p = 0.018), insomnia (p = 0.039), COVID-19 severity (p = 0.014), sleep duration (p = 0.003) and age (p = 0.001) predicted NF.

Discussion: Our work shows strong associations between increased nightmares in those reporting having had COVID-19. This suggests that the more that people were affected by COVID-19, the greater the impact upon dream activity and quality of life.

Alternate JournalNat Sci Sleep
PubMed ID35115852
PubMed Central IDPMC8800372