SINCE late March I've had just about every classic stress dream in the book: searching frantically for a missing shoe, the horrific sensation of crumbling teeth and even feeling my chest contract with panic while running through an airport to catch a flight.

I've woken in a cold sweat fretting about an exam I hadn't studied for and felt overwhelming relief to realise I was safely in bed rather than standing naked in front of a lectern with no recollection of the speech I was meant to be giving to a packed auditorium.

My sleeping brain has conjured up earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and a menacing, twinkling star in the night sky that may or may not signal impending invasion by extraterrestrial beings (oddly I felt less freaked out by that than losing a shoe).

There have been strangely comforting dreams about deceased loved ones, as well as sprinklings of joyful nostalgia where I find myself back in the 1990s and my entire family is marvelling at the wonder of a new dishwasher and all the channels on satellite telly.

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You might be curious where I'm going with this. Well, apparently, weird dreams are all the rage, piquing the interest of cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists.

The way in which the coronavirus pandemic is impacting our sleeping lives is the subject of a new study – dubbed "Covid on Mind" – being run by a cross-disciplinary team of academics from Australia, the UK and Finland.

The idea isn't to interpret the meaning of dreams (sorry, Freud) but, rather, to glean data that could prove useful as a barometer to an individual's mental state.

It is a fascinating subject area. Not least how, certainly in the early days of lockdown, as our waking hours became more monotonous, our nocturnal adventures within slumber grew ever livelier.

Granted, a lot of dreams are pretty mundane. Years ago, I had a flat share with a chap who used to regularly corner me in the communal kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil and recount in tedious detail his previous night's dream. Spoiler: always boring.

It was never hanging out with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion or jamming with Elvis at Graceland or anything in the ballpark of interesting. He also had a catchphrase: "Crazy. You had to be there".

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One such rambling was about going to Costco for a rotisserie chicken. I'm ashamed to say this was the day I finally snapped and said, "For God's sake, just tell me the top line", like I was the hard-faced, grizzled and chain-smoking news editor in a bad film about tabloid journalism.

His face fell and he said: "I just really like rotisserie chicken". I felt so bad, I almost jumped in a cab to the nearest Costco to buy a rotisserie chicken. Instead, I ate takeaway meals in my tiny bedroom for weeks afterwards because I was too sheepish to venture into the kitchen.

Which probably tells you more about human behaviour – certainly, this human – than any dreams might.

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