Narcoleptic Nightmares

I don’t know if I’ve ever written about this before, but narcoleptics have nightmares. And since they spend so much time in REM (dream) sleep, they tend to have a lot more nightmares than the average person. At least, I do.

It’s not normal bad dreams, either, because they don’t end when I wake up — it’s a bizarre combination of actual dreaming, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations, I think. It’s horrible. The other day, I dreamed that there was a dead fox on my desk, and I was trapped in my room with it, and I had to just lay there, terrified and slipping in and out of dreaming, while it turned green and rotted and its juices leaked onto the floor. I can still smell it.

I’ve never in my life felt as scared as I do during a nightmare, the fear is almost incomprehensible. It’s like, you know that you’re going to die and the feeling of being trapped is so strong and raw, it turns you into an animal.


I know that’s like, really melodramatic, but you have to understand how horrible these dreams are. They’re more real than dreams but less real than reality, you get stuck somewhere in between. I have them every night, often many times, and I don’t know why. Sometimes I can wake myself up by scratching at my face, but this is not an ideal solution, because it leaves scabs on my poor face, and they leave red marks long after they’ve healed.

So, narcolepsy isn’t just sleeping a lot. I wish that were the case, because that sounds peaceful. The truth is, I hate sleeping, I hate the time it steals from me during the day and I dread having to go to bed at night, because my sleep is so light that I can feel the hours passing slowly, and I slide in and out of nightmares. Sleep doesn’t give me any rest.

A photographer named Nicholas Bruno suffers from sleep paralysis as well, and he’s made this awesome portfolio recreating his hallucinations. I really love his work, because his hallucinations are strikingly similar to mine, there’s some intangible quality in his art that makes me feel like I’m looking at my own nightmares.

So, if you feel like looking at creepy stuff, you should check his photography out here.



8 thoughts on “Narcoleptic Nightmares

  1. Venlafaxine (Effexor) is quite good at stopping the REM-sleep stuff: the paralysis and nightmares, and suppresses the cataplexy pretty well too. Some dodgy side-effects and I go long periods without using it. But it’s good at least for providing a paralysis holiday!


  2. Mason says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I can always recall my dream perfect because of how vivid and real they always feel. Sometimes I’ll share my dreams with my wife and she thinks their so morbid. I don’t watch scary movies or anything crazy. Like everything, you get out what you put in. But sometimes I wonder how my brain comes up with it all. I’ve had terrible and just awfully sick dreams before. I don’t have nightmares every night but I do have them more often than not. I really like this artists photos.


  3. E Olinger says:

    I am very much enjoying your writing, you capture the lived experience of a narcoleptic perfectly. You are very skilled and make our experience relatable to others.


    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. I’m trying to write more often! I think it’s super important for people to understand what we go through.


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