KITCHENER -- The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people's sleep patterns and their dreams.

Lily Hiebert Rempel said she began to see a shift in her sleeping patterns a few months into the pandemic. She was sleeping longer and later while she worked from home.

"My sleep hygiene has really deteriorated," she said.

Sleep expert Leila Jalali said most people are sleeping an average of 30 to 60 minutes longer.

"They don't need to commute and they don't need time for grooming in the morning," she said.

However, sleeping longer doesn't mean sleep is more restful.

Jalali said people are experiencing more fragmented dreams these days.

"Dreaming actually reflects the waking challenges we have during the day," Jalali said. "The brain has some mechanisms during the dreaming to decrease the emotional load."

Vivide dreams often happen in the morning when bodies are trying to make up for disrupted sleep.

"People are wearing masks in my dream and it's feeling like I'm constantly caged in and how I don't have a voice anymore," one person said.

"My dreams are more intense, some more nightmares than I've ever experienced as well," another said.

Hiebert Rempel said she remembers a feeling of anxiety in most of her dreams. She believes that's likely due to her focus on pandemic restrictions.

"Will I be able to do this? Would I be able able to accomplish this? How did I get myself into this mess?" she said.

Jalali suggests more physical activity and setting a regular sleep schedule, along with not working in bed, to help improve sleep.