These Artists Illustrate Sleep Disorders In A Way That We Can All Understand

FEBRUARY 2, 2016  —  By Madeline Distasio  
Madeline Distasio

Madeline Distasio

Writer and editor holding it down in Philadelphia. Interests include drawing, exclusively wearing black, having too many books to fit in my tiny apartment, and choosing my dachshund over people.

Sleep disorders are fickle beasts. There are few things more infuriating than staring at the ceiling for hours on end with no choice but to watch the clock tick down into oblivion. As if trapped in a living nightmare, those who suffer from sleep issues know that they'll be faced with the same problems every single night — and paired with this painful reality is the constant stress that comes along with realizing that no one will ever understand how you feel.

They'll never understand what it's like to dread bedtime, or how painful it is to go about daily life when you're running on fumes. And that's why the work that these artists are doing is so important. Through animation and illustration, Petra Svajger and Maja Poljanc explore the psychology of disrupted sleep in an eye-opening series called PARASOMNIAs.

Extending beyond insomnia, the two artists aim to present disorders that are incomprehensible to those on the outside in a more visceral way.

Thinking about the nature of sleep on a conceptual level is a pretty daunting (and often fruitless) endeavor. That's why they've decided to create visual alternatives to these abstract ideas. In the image above — fittingly titled REM Sleep — we're confronted with the dancing eyes and vulnerable bodies associated with a form of sleep that those with chronic disorders never get to experience.

Not everyone can identify with the sensation of stuffing a waking mind into a sleeping body, but we can all tap into the frozen terror we'd experience if all of those monsters under the bed came out of hiding.

In Sleep Paralysis, the artists illustrate the sensation of staring fear in the face while being trapped inside an immovable body.

The collection also recognizes sleep issues that often fly under the radar.

Sleep Eating illustrates one of the most bizarre disorders in the bunch. After all, you can't brush your teeth after meals that you don't remember eating.

The animations attach familiar sensations to otherwise unfathomable conditions.

According to this piece called Restless Leg Syndrome, the disorder is akin to feeling the skin crawl on your perpetually moving legs. It really highlights the fact that RLS sufferers associate little to no relaxation with the thought of going to bed each night.

With simple illustrations, Svajger and Poljanc interpret sleep disorders in a way that's at once plainly literal and completely inspired.

In the blink of an eye, Insomnia illustrates the draining sensation that comes with lying awake night after night in an endless cycle.

One of art's many functions is to reinterpret phenomena from which we feel disconnected in everyday life, and that's exactly what PARASOMNIAs does. It's hard to consider the toll that sleep disorders take on sufferers if those conditions aren't part of your reality. By attaching familiar imagery to concepts that might as well be floating out in the ether somewhere, it tethers each disorder closely enough to the ground to turn it into something recognizable.

To see more of their work, check out Petra Svajger's website and Maja Poljanc's Behance page. For regular updates, follow Svajger on Instagram.

 

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