The last year or so has seen enormous change in workplaces across the UK. Millions of workers have found themselves having to adapt to working from home. According to the ONS, just under half of us are in this situation – with the rest unable to make the same transition. Some of us have taken to the new work environment well; some of us haven’t fared quite so swimmingly. Given the severe nature of the change, it should come as no surprise that it’s had an effect on the things we dream about.
According to a study commissioned by Rotherham-based signage printing company, instantprint, many of these dreams are bad ones. The study asked 1000 people about their dreams since lockdown started; an incredible 75% of respondents told the researchers that they’d experienced persistent nightmares since the first lockdown began. Some of the most commonly-cited situations being dreamed about include being unprepared for a task, being lost at work and being unfairly fired. Just 6% of workers dreamed about a huge pay rise or bonus.
You might attribute these results to widespread feelings of job insecurity in the wake of the pandemic. Unemployment in the UK has climbed sharply to 4.9% during the pandemic – and the worst of the economic pain might still be ahead. The scale of the shock to the labour market far exceeds the peak seen in the wake of the financial crisis, a decade ago.
instantprint were keen to shed light on the nature of these dreams, and so they sought the advice of Dr Sarah Jane Daly, a senior lecturer in social psychology from the University of Huddersfield. She cites the breaking down of barriers between home life and work life as another of the likely culprits. “For many of us, Covid-19 has brought work into our personal spaces,” she said. “We think of home as a place where we can relax and shut out work-day stresses and strains. The fact that many people work from home now, means that our homes have become literal places of work. Kitchen tables, coffee tables, beds, sofas – all places that were once stress-free are now sites of work-production. Getting away from work has never been so difficult.”
She says that, while many of us might have been suffering from stress-related insomnia, the majority are getting better sleep than ever. Moreover, nightmares can have their benefits: “Dreaming provides us with the space and time to process and playout our subconscious fears, to problem-solve and work through our subconscious issues,” says Dr Daly.
If you’re struggling to sleep well, then there are tried-and-tested ways of addressing the situation. Make sure that you follow them!