Dreams . . . Cancer . . . Nightmares . . . Sleeplessness . . . What of Insomnia?

Note: This week begins a celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Week, April 15-21. I thought it appropriate to highlight some intriguing, insightful and, hopefully, entertaining bits and pieces of creativity and innovation from around our globe.

My initial offering deals with Insomnia and how, for some people, it can be truly nightmarish. This post includes information and images from both a presentation on insomnia and select photos by a photographer who has severely suffered from insomnia.

In this excerpt from an issue of Adobe Create Magazine, the photog takes us into his bizarre world of striking, nightmarish illusions.

And his fight with insomnia.

Photographer Nicolas Bruno has suffered from sleep paralysis since he was seven years old. In Bruno’s case, when he enters REM sleep, his mind becomes conscious, or awake, but his body remains asleep. During these recurring episodes, he experiences shortness of breath or pressure on his chest and the feeling that he’s being choked or is going to be killed. Screaming shadow figures menace him in bed. He’s unable to move, and the state seems to last hours. Sometimes it stops because he awakens; other times he moves into another dream. All of it is out of his control.

And you thought you had nightmares!

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When Bruno was fifteen, he began experiencing sleep paralysis almost every night. To help process the resulting stress, he kept a dream journal and then turned to drawing and photography. At first, he photographed mostly landscapes and abandoned places. Over time, he started making work directly inspired by what he goes through during sleep paralysis.

“Transforming my experiences with sleep paralysis into artwork not only helps me understand the dreams,” Bruno says. “It gives me a universal voice to speak about something almost impossible to describe with words. After I complete a photo shoot and see my final image, I feel so relieved to have transformed a once uncontrollable nightmare into something positive and tangible.”

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“The characters I portray within my work are figures I’ve documented within my sleep paralysis episodes. Faceless men in suits often stand at the foot of my bed, and women in dresses might float across my bedroom to shriek in my ear. Sometimes I’m grasped by hands that attempt to drag me off of my bed. These characters reoccur, transform, and sometimes reveal more about themselves as time goes on,” explains Bruno.

Though Bruno still suffers from regular episodes of sleep paralysis, he has learned to minimize the contributing factors, which include excessive stress, too much screen time before bed, an irregular sleep schedule, and sleeping in unfamiliar locations.

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“As I’ve become used to the feelings,” he says, “I’ve found that riding out the experience subdues the terrifying nature of the dream and can leave room for analysis, and even a quick exit. If you allow the fear to win, you’ll never have control of the situation. My advice is to build up your courage to face these dreams head on, whether it be through strength, religion, logic, or spiritualism.”

I struggle with sleeplessness and insomnia, too. Strange dreams of partially true vignettes of moments in my past life sometimes intermingle with “newly scripted” happenings, making for a weird combination of mental nighttime gymnastics.

I’m a cancer survivor as well as a caregiver to my wife. No stress here!

When I consider the various meds I take daily as well as the numerous decisions and judgement calls my wife and I make on a daily basis, it’s probably no wonder why I have insomnia. And weird dreams.

I was interested when I heard about a lecture recently given by MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston relative to sleeplessness and insomnia. Here’s a link to a presentation I received that evening so you, too, can gain insight into this all-too troubling disorder.

Please don’t hesitate to share your own insomnia stories, especially if you have learned some techniques to counter or offset this malaise.

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Dreams . . . Cancer . . . Nightmares . . . Sleeplessness . . . What of Insomnia?

  1. Since early childhood, I am used to daydreaming. I use these daydreams to glide into my sleep and continue the dream while sleeping. It is very much entertaining.
    As a child I developed a set of phantasy scenarios that I still utilize to fall asleep if I am stressed. These scenarios have got a common denominator, which is “letting go” and “becoming one with my environment”.
    Besides, I watch animal / pet youtube videos to relax and experience positive feelings while falling asleep (unfortunately, I don`t have a pet) in case of emergency. I love to watch pets sleeping & relaxing.
    Outdoor activities definetely help too in my experience. You are simply more (and in a different way) tired.
    Finally, sometimes it`s the best tactics to simply accept insomnia…let it go.

    • Thank you for sharing your insight. I appreciate it. Seems everyone has something that keeps them awake at night; some more than others. All I can do is take it one night at a time, knowing that some nights will be better than others.

      • Maybe, you should trust your body. If he needs a break, he will fall asleep…No force.

        And if you ponder too much in bed, it might help to make a few notes of your thoughts for the follow-up next day.

        Well, I guess, everybody has to find his/her own little tricks. Have a good night, Joe!

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