Artist's Surreal Photo Series Captures Her Struggle With Insomnia

06/12/2015 10:17 am ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015

Photographer Jenna Martin has had a lifelong battle with sleep. The result? A series of stunning, surreal photographs that document how she sees the world during a bout of insomnia.

"On average, I only get a few hours of sleep every three days or so. During a bad bout, I’ll go close to five days with no sleep," Martin told The Huffington Post of her "To Dream A Dream" photo series. "When that happens, reality and the dream world become switched in a way: reality is very hazy and hard to remember, and any sleep I do get has dreams that are incredibly vivid. Everything starts to blend together; I'll begin seeing things from a third person perspective and it’s hard to tell if I'm awake or if I'm dreaming."

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Martin, a fine art and underwater photographer, lives in Billings, Montana. She originally got her master's degree in Psychiatric Rehabilitation before making what she describes as a drastic career change into the field of surreal photography.

Although her struggle with sleep is part of what fuels Martin's creativity and helps her think about things in an "unconventional" way, she told HuffPost that having insomnia comes with incredible challenges.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, 48 percent of Americans report occasional insomnia, while 22 percent experience insomnia every or almost every night. Sleep experts recommend practicing good sleep hygiene (keep those electronics out of the bedroom!) and in more extreme cases Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Martin told HuffPost that she's been given various prescription sleep medications over the years, but none have been effective in treating her insomnia.


"It’s been an ongoing problem for the doctors that I have seen, mostly because I do everything that is recommended: no television in the bedroom, no computer before bed, no large meals before bed, no caffeine, regular exercise, etc.," she said. "My Master’s degree is in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and I specialized in neurological processes. I’ve been trying to solve this for as long as I can remember.

"Insomnia is a strange disorder. It’s kind of like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the way that everyone casually mentions they have it, like it’s no big deal," she continued. "It’s maddening. People also assume that since you never sleep, you must be used to it somehow. But your body never really adapts. You’re always tired. Sleep becomes a constant obsession. You’ll do anything to get it. It’s all you think about."

Take a look at at more images from Martin's "To Dream A Dream" series below. For more, visit her website.

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