Although they’re more common than many thought, parasomnias are deeply personal, affecting experiences. Sleep is a time when we’re most vulnerable and sleep paralysis, restless leg syndrome and other such parasomnias have the ability to unmoor us from our foundation, sapping us of sleep and stranding us between the realm of consciousness. In the light of day, they can be diagnosed as a glitch in the sleep-wake system; in the darkness, they’re wicked things.
Visual artist Petra Svajger recently devoted a project to the world of parasomnias during her first year at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana while pursuing her Masters. Often subject to bouts of sleep talking and crying as well as strange dreams, Svajger researched sleep and, along with her friend and illustrator Maja Poljanc, created a series of GIFs to translate her experiences with sleep disorders. As playful as they are squirm-inducing, the series, which combines subtly-animated black and white pencil-scratch illustrations and photographs of sleeping people, serves to bring a universality to the subject.
“I am fascinated by the world of sleep because it is so interesting what our body or mind does in these states of unconsciousness or part consciousness,” Petra says. “And how different stages of sleep influence our dreams or actions.”
Here, with permission, are her renderings of the more sinister REM states.
Restless Leg Syndrome