*Disclaimer: Some of these stories include sensitive topics such as murder and cannibalism. Please read at your own discretion.
Sometimes cinematic, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes terrifying, but always interesting- the dreams we have are always something to marvel about as soon as one wakes up and starts putting the various pieces, that are still faintly present in our memories, back together.
During our REM, rapid eye movement, stage of sleep, our brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake – this is precisely when we start to formulate dreams. These dreams can last anywhere between a few seconds to about 20 or 30 minutes, which means that we usually have more than one dream per night, even though we rarely end up remembering them (we usually only barely remember the last one we had right before waking up).
The content of dreams and trying to find meaning behind it is something that has been debated since the dawn of time. However, what we do know is that dreams are heavily influenced by our everyday lives and how we are coping with various things in our lives at the moment.
A Global Phenomenon: The Pandemic Effect
Ever since the novel COVID-19 (coronavirus) was declared a pandemic and people worldwide have had to quarantine, go on lockdown and practice self-isolation and social distancing, people have reportedly been having more and more strange and vivid dreams.
According to an article in The Guardian on the topic, “Google searches for “weird dreams” have doubled since this time last year.” Although the fact that vivid and strange dreams have been increasing across the globe may sound strange, it actually makes sense that this would happen during the current period of time.
National Geographic published an article discussing how the pandemic is giving people unusual dreams, and it explains that “with hundreds of millions of people sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic, some dream experts believe that withdrawal from our usual environments and daily stimuli has left dreamers with a dearth of “inspiration,” forcing our subconscious minds to draw more heavily on themes from our past.”
What this basically means is that, other than having our dreams be influenced by what is currently happening in our lives and day-to-day , which for most people around the world has all of a sudden changed drastically, our dreams are also now influenced by past experiences and memories as a result of the change we are all going through. It is also important to note however, that there are various factors that could be affecting one’s sleep cycle and dreams that are not necessarily directly tied to the pandemic phenomenon – but the fact that the world in universally going through the same thing, with all thes edrastic changes in our daily lives, plays a big role.
That being said, in the spirit of communal sharing that showcases how we are all going through similar experiences, Egyptian Streets asked some people across Cairo to share some of the strange dreams they have been having with us.
Dream #1: Zebra Virus
“There are various aspects to the dream that I don’t recall, but what I remember is that I was in a hospital – a big hospital. A friend of mine at this hospital had some kind of derivative of the coronavirus called zebra virus, where one looks a bit like Thanos (The Avengers character) and there are zebra-looking lines that appear on the face – specifically across one’s forehead and chin.
With this virus, you show symptoms instantly, so as soon as (my friend) transmitted the virus to me, I instantly showed symptoms and I started walking all around the hospital – it was a very tiring dream.
Then I was taken away to be isolated and I was wrapped in these special kind of thermal blankets. I was taken to a room and then the timeline gets a bit blurry, but I remember at some point my dad was holding me and kissing me – which is something that happens in real life, and I keep telling him ‘but what about corona’ – so he did that in my dream as well. I kept pushing him away, warning him that he would get the virus and then I went to the isolation room. The room had a TV and it looked very much like a dark hotel room, not a hospital room, and I just sat and watched TV. All of a sudden, a relative walked in on me and said he wanted to isolate with me and I told him no, I want to self-isolate on my own so that I can watch TV as much as I want and do what I like.
The thing is, that particular night, I had a bunch of dreams and I don’t remember all of them, but for some reason they were all tiring and I woke up feeling exhausted. It felt like I had been running the entire time I was asleep.”
-Summer, 31 years old.
Dream #2: Unrequited Pharaonic Love
“I once dreamt that a pharaoh time travelled to 2020 and that he was in love with me. He had so much magical powers that he could just clap with his hands and the whole room changes and it would be full of gifts all of a sudden.
He could also change what I was wearing and he would do all this to impress me. He even tried to cope with our culture and wear clothes like ours, but he still looked like a pharaoh; he had eyeliner on and everything.
I was so mad because I felt bad for him because I wasn’t interested in him, and I was scared he’d want to hurt me or my boyfriend with his magical powers. He even imitated every cute thing that my boyfriend would do, and he would repeat situations my boyfriend and I were in so that he could replace himself in them instead. I just kept running away from him the entire dream.”
-Noha, 25 years old.
Dream #3: An Unplanned Visit to an Angry Dentist
“I had a dream that me and a friend were lost somewhere that I don’t remember, but it was like we were trying to reach an office or something but we couldn’t find it.
As we were looking for it inside a building, we passed by a dental clinic and the dentist (a young woman) was standing in-front of the door. She suddenly started grabbing me and insisted that I get in to get checked. I tried to explain that I wasn’t there for a dental thing, yet she insisted.
So in order to let her leave me alone, I asked her to give me her number so I can call her and make an appointment; she then started scolding me because she thought that I was hitting on her or something, and she refused to give me the number.
Me and my friend eventually left, but I left my bag somewhere in the reception so that I could comeback to the clinic since the dentist didn’t want to give me her number, and also because my friend actually wanted to ask her out.
Suddenly her apprentice shouts and closes the clinic door and a huge fight breaks out inside the clinic between hundreds of women who were actually already inside the clinic. Then the door opened and those women start rushing out the door like angry bulls.”
-Tamer, 32 years old.
Dream #4: My Brother Ate our Neighbor
“So I had a dream that my younger brother came to visit me and my mom but my mom wasn’t there, and for some reason I’m not really sure why, one day he came to me and he said, “I did something bad.”
As his sister, I responded with ”What is it? I’m sure it’s not that bad…” but then, he confessed to me that he killed our neighbor who was an old woman living by herself (probably in her 60s), and to hide what he did, he ate her.
But now, her house was full of blood, and he didn’t know what to do because then everyone would know something happened to her, and they would start investigating. I started panicking for a while, then again, as his older sister, I began to think about how to clean up the crime scene. We went to her house, started cleaning, and he couldn’t stop crying; he just went into full on panic mode. I was trying to calm him down, just talk him through everything we were doing and why it’s important. Also, I want to clarify that I remember in the dream the woman [the neighbor] was really really evil; I don’t remember why exactly, but we hated her.
This woman is not a real person though, I don’t even know my neighbors; it was some made up character. I don’t remember much after that, but I think people started to notice she was gone ,and they were standing outside her house. That’s all I remember from this dream. I woke up sweating and gasping for air, so, I’m pretty sure it was a nightmare.”-Layla, mid-twenties.