** AS READ ON BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK IN DECEMBER 2022 **
‘Curious, lively, humble, utterly genuine … a remarkable debut.’ SUNDAY TIMES
Alice Vernon often wakes up to find strangers in her bedroom.
Ever since she was a child, her nights have been haunted by nightmares of a figure from her adolescence, sinister hallucinations and episodes of sleepwalking. These are known as ‘parasomnias’ – and they’re surprisingly common.
Now a lecturer in Creative Writing, Vernon set out to understand the history, science and culture of these strange and haunting experiences. Night Terrors, her startling and vivid debut, examines the history of our relationship with bad dreams: how we’ve tried to make sense of and treat them, from some decidedly odd ‘cures’ like magical ‘mare-stones’, to research on how video games might help people rewrite their dreams. Along the way she explores the Salem Witch Trials and sleep paralysis, Victorian ghost stories, and soldiers’ experiences of PTSD. By directly confronting her own strange and frightening nights for the first time, Vernon encourages us to think about the way troubled sleep has impacted our imaginations.
Night Terrors aims to shine a light on the darkest parts of our sleeping lives, and to reassure sufferers from bad dreams that they are not alone.