Here’s one of the weirdest side effects of the coronavirus pandemic that we’ve heard of so far: People around the world are experiencing a rash of bizarrely vivid quarantine dreams while sleeping, called “quarandreams.” And surprisingly often, these weirdly intense sleep visions are all about real estate.
Sleep experts and dream analysts agree that the rise of quarandreams is not surprising, given that many are under a lot more stress than usual, combined with the fact that it’s simply easier to remember dreams when there is less noise outside to wake us up mid-sleep cycle.
But why are so many of these pandemic dreams centering on homes?
Psychoanalysts dating to Carl Jung have traditionally viewed the house as a representation of the self. So what are these quarandreams trying to tell you? Is it time to relocate to the burbs, or upgrade to a bigger house?
“Dreams provide an entryway to the private discussions we are having with ourselves,” says dream analyst Layne Dalfen, author of “Have a Great Dream: Decoding Your Dreams to Discover Your Full Potential.”
To help point you toward what your own dream subtext might be saying, here are some of the most common real estate quarandreams that crop up, and some interpretations on what they mean.
Dreaming of your childhood home
If the home you grew up in suddenly appears in your dreams—e.g., you’re 5 years old again playing ball in the backyard, or revisiting your childhood house as an adult—it typically means one of two things. Since a house is often a representation of your current emotional state, it may mean you’re either wishing to go back to memories of that time, or experiencing feelings associated with it.
For example, if the home of your youth was a happy place, you may be dreaming about it because you’re craving that feeling of security again—which would make sense during a pandemic. Conversely, if you hated your childhood, then the current COVID-19 confinement could be stirring up memories of how you wanted to flee the situation (which, of course, could tie in with how you’d like to escape this pandemic).
Dreaming of living in a mansion
Nighttime reveries of living in a palatial estate may seem to have an obvious subtext: You wished you were wealthier and could afford some posh digs, right?
Yet Dalfen suggests interpreting this less literally. For example, the mansion symbolizes some “splurge” you’ve been denied perhaps due to the pandemic.
“This dream is encouraging action,” says Dalfen. “Do something to remedy how you are feeling.” Even if fulfilling your wish in its current form isn’t advisable, find another way to scratch that itch (e.g., rather than cooking your umpteenth dinner, treat yourself to takeout from a fancy restaurant once in a while).
Dreaming of living in a tiny, cluttered house
If your dream has you wedged in a cramped, cluttered house, it may be tempting to take this at face value that your home just doesn’t have enough space. But on a less literal level, it could represent that you’re feeling trapped—in your house, career, relationships, or otherwise.
“Dreams speak in the language of metaphor, so the feelings of being closed in on could be your unconscious mind creating a dream scenario in which you are inspired to break out,” says Dalfen.
It could also indicate that you’ve been keeping quiet about your frustrations. If, in the dream, you start cleaning up the mess or somehow decluttering, it could be your unconscious mind encouraging you to speak up about what’s bothering you to the family members or friends who might be cramping your style.
Dreaming of renovating your home
This dream probably has nothing to do with your desire to make over your kitchen, but everything to do with the need to embark on self-improvement in other areas of your life—perhaps a battle cry to shed those dreaded “COVID-19” pounds you’ve put on, or to reconnect with friends rather than vegging out in front of your TV.
One thing to pay attention to with this kind of dream is repetition. If you keep dreaming of renovating your home over and over and over, is it always the same room? Are the results successful?
“The repeating we do in dreams is our unconscious way of being sure you get the message you are sending yourself,” says Dalfen.
Dreaming your house is filled with bugs or other pests
If you have nightmares of creepy-crawlies infesting your house, it’s a classic sign that you and your home’s inhabitants (be it a partner, roommate, or kids) are spending too much time together—giving your unconscious mind the sensation that they’re crawling all over you.
“This is a fabulous example of play on words and how we use them in our sleep as much as we do in waking life,” says Dalfen. In other words, if your kids are “on top of you” 24/7, your brain is saying it’s time to take a break!
Dreaming about losing the keys to your house
Dreams about keys often have to do with needing access. So if you’re dreaming about losing your keys or being locked out of your home, it could mean there’s someone you’re trying to “get through to”—like a busy boss or flaky friend—but you can’t “get in.” This dream could be prodding you to try a different tactic (i.e., key) to get a different result.
This is also a perfect analogy for quarandream analysis in general: If none of these scenarios we’ve laid out quite fits the real estate dreams you are having, try a different approach.
“Analyzing your dream and pinpointing the specific situation in your life that triggered it is like doing a puzzle.” says Dalfen. “You’ll try one piece—and if it doesn’t fit, you try another.”
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