Dreams and nightmares during the first and second wave of the covid-19 infection: A longitudinal study

Serena Scarpelli, Valentina Alfonsi, Maurizio Gorgoni, Alessandro Musetti, Maria Filosa, Maria C. Quattropani, Vittorio Lenzo, Elena Vegni, Lidia Borghi, Giorgia Margherita, Maria Francesca Freda, Emanuela Saita, Roberto Cattivelli, Gianluca Castelnuovo, Tommaso Manari, Giuseppe Plazzi, Luigi De Gennaro, Christian Franceschini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent literature shows that the Coronovirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has provoked significant changes in dreaming. The current study intends to provide an update about dream variable changes during the second wave of COVID-19. A total of 611 participants completed a web survey from December 2020 to January 2021. Statistical comparisons showed that subjects had lower dream-recall frequency, nightmare frequency, lucid-dream frequency, emotional intensity, and nightmare distress during the second than the first wave of the pandemic. Dreams had a higher negative tone during the second than first wave. We revealed significant differences concerning post-traumatic growth, sleep-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and sleep measures between groups obtained as a function of the changes in the oneiric frequency between the first and second waves. We also found significant correlations between qualitative/emotional dream features and COVID-19-related factors (job change, forced quarantine, having COVID-19 infected relatives/friends, or asking for mental health help). Overall, we found that the second wave affected fewer quantitative features of dream activity and there was less emotional intensity. Moreover, we confirmed the relationship between nightmares and the high risk of PTSD when subjects were grouped as a function of the increasing/decreasing frequency. Finally, our findings are partly coherent with the continuity hypothesis between oneiric and waking experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1375
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Dreaming
  • Lockdown
  • Lucid dreams
  • Nightmares
  • Pandemic
  • Second wave
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Dreams and nightmares during the first and second wave of the covid-19 infection: A longitudinal study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this