Deirdre Barrett, PhD, a Harvard psychologist and dream researcher who launched an international survey about pandemic-related dreams, told WebMD that the most common dreams reported just so happen to include "swarms of wasps, flies, and gnats to armies of roaches and wiggly worms." Apparently bug attacks are "by far the most common metaphor" out of 8,000 responses.
"I think part of it traces to the slang use of the word; we say we have a bug to mean we have a virus," Barrett continued. "Dreams can be kind of pun-like in using visual images for words."
Vivid dreams happen during the rapid eye movement phase of our sleep cycles. If your ZZZs end up being disturbed because of stress and anxiety, or even if you find yourself sleeping more because of any quarantine-related schedule changes, you may be spending more time in REM sleep, leading to those intense dreams.
Being chased by something in a dream — even by bugs — can mean you're avoiding something. "The degree to which you are being chased gives a clear indication of the degree to which you are avoiding an issue that needs to be addressed," psychotherapist Matthew Bowes previously told Refinery29. "Perhaps you’ve been risk-avoidant, or you’ve held back on confronting something which is uncomfortable or frightening."
When asked specifically about bug dreams, Bowes revealed that being overwhelmed by tiny monsters like spiders and worms "may indicate that little irritations or worries are creeping up on you."
To stop these creepy crawlies from appearing in your dreams each night, it might be good for you to confront whatever is in your life that's annoying you right now — no matter how small. After all, waking up in a cold sweat after being surrounded by swarms of bugs might just be worse.