22 Movies That Explore The World of Sleep

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In the past few months, the whole world has been confined to their homes. With nothing else to do, the favourite pass time for most people is eating, sleeping, or watching movies. I have been especially dependent on movies for my entertainment. I finally got the time to watch all the movies on my wishlist.

Having watched so many movies, I noticed that movies have been made on all possible subjects. They say art imitates life and I found it true for the most part. There is a cinematic representation for everything we as humans experience, be it happiness, sorrow, friendship, love, loss. Everything has a movie made on it!

This led me to question, what is the one aspect of my life that I experience the most? The answer was clear – sleep. Sleep is a very important part of my life, more since social distancing became a norm. It is significant enough that multiple people have used it as a base for their cinema. So why not take a look at all the movies made about sleep?

So here are some of the best movies made on the topic of sleep.

1. Taxi Driver

Sleep Movies - Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is a Martin Scorsese directed masterpiece, which garnered immense acclaim including multiple academy award nominations. In this psychological thriller crime drama, Robert De Niro stars as Travis Bickle, a 26-year-old Vietnam War veteran. Travis becomes a nighttime taxi driver to battle his chronic insomnia.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Sleep Movies - A Nightmare on Elm Street

This cult classic is often considered to be one of the greatest horror films ever made. The original movie came out in 1984 and was remade with the same name in 2010. The movie narrates the story of four teenagers who have nightmares of being killed by a monstrous spirit of a slain child murderer and are subsequently killed in reality.

3. Dreamscape

Sleep Movies - Dreamscape

This 1984 science-fiction adventure film narrates the life of a young psychic. He is able to master a technique that allows him to link with the minds of others by projecting himself into the subconscious during REM sleep. The project knows as dreamscape is made with the intention to diagnose and cure sleep disorders and nightmares. However, it is soon hijacked by a powerful government agent.

4. Sleepless in Seattle

Sleep Movies - Sleepless in Seattle

This rom-com stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and is based on a story by Jeff Arch. The movie was a commercial as well as critical success. It is the story of a recently widowed man and his son’s attempts to find his father a partner.

5. The City of Lost Children

Sleep Movies - The City of Lost Children

The city of Lost Children is a sci-fi movie made in 1995. In the movie, a creature called Krank is created by a scientist. Krank kidnaps children from a nearby town to steal their dreams because he is unable to dream, which causes him to age prematurely.

6. Dream for an Insomniac

Sleep Movies - Dream for an Insomniac

This romantic comedy follows the life of a girl named Frankie who suffers from insomnia. Frankie’s parents were killed in a car accident when she was young and since then she hasn’t been able to sleep through the night. She eventually falls in love with a writer named David who attempts to cure her insomnia. However, Frankie soon finds out that he is engaged to another woman.

7. Insomnia

Sleep Movies - Insomnia

Insomnia is a 1997 Norwegian thriller film that was remade by Christopher Nolan in 2002. The movie is about a police detective investigating a murder in a town. During the investigation, he mistakenly shoots his own partner and subsequently attempts to cover up his blunder. The title of the film refers to his inability to sleep as a result of his guilt.

8. Class Trip

Sleep Movies - Class Trip

Class Trip is a French movie based on a book by Emmanuel Carrère. The movie is about a young boy named Nicolas, who is anxious about his school’s ski trip. During the trip, he has various nightmares and visions which take over him.

9. Fight Club

Sleep Movies - Fight Club

Fight club is a 1999 cult classic based on a novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. It was cited as one of the most controversial and talked-about films of 1999. The movie depicts actor Edward Norton as an insomniac, who is discontent with his white-collar job. He meets a soap salesman Tyler Durden and forms an underground fight club.

10. In Dreams

Sleep Movies - In Dreams

This 1999 American psychological horror film was directed by Neil Jordan. The story is about Claire Cooper, a suburban housewife who illustrates children’s books. She soon learns that she has a dreamworld connection to a serial murderer, and must stop him from killing again.

11. Dead Awake

Sleep Movies - Dead Awake

This 2001 Canadian-American thriller follows the life of a marketing executive named Desmond Caine. He suffers from a chronic and bizarre form of insomnia because of which he spends his nights walking the streets alone. One night he witnesses a brutal murder and somehow finds himself as the prime suspect of the murder.

12. Waking Life

Sleep Movies - Waking Life

Waking Life is a 2001 American experimental philosophical animated docu-fiction film. The movie is about a young man who wanders through a succession of dream-like realities wherein he encounters a series of individuals who engage in insightful philosophical discussions with him. The film explores a wide range of philosophical issues, including the nature of reality, dreams, and lucid dreams, consciousness, the meaning of life, etc.

13. No Rest for the Brave

Sleep Movies - No Rest For The Brave

No rest for the brave is a French / Austrian comedy film. The movie follows the life of an angsty teenage boy named Basile. Basile is convinced that if he falls asleep he will die. This leads him to a road trip laden with his hallucinations.

14. Narco

Sleep Movies - Narco

Narco is a French comedy movie. The film narrates the life of Gus, who finds it difficult to keep a job as he suffers from narcolepsy. He falls asleep all the time and has dreams about supermen from comics.

15. The Machinist

Sleep Movies - The Machinist

The Machinist is a psychological thriller starring Christian Bale. The film follows the life of Trevor Reznik, a machinist who is responsible for a serious workplace accident involving a co-worker. This accident is caused due to his insomnia and psychological problems. After Reznik is fired, he goes into a downward spiral of guilt, paranoia, delusion, and begins to doubt his own sanity.

16. 20 Centimeters

Sleep Movies - 20 Centimeters

This Spanish film is about a transgender woman named Marieta. She suffers from narcolepsy which causes her to fall asleep at any sudden moment, and each time she dreams she is the star of musical numbers where she is free to sing and dance as her true self.

17. Cashback

Sleep Movies - Cashback

This British rom-com drama depicts the life of an aspiring artist, Ben Willis. Ben develops insomnia after a painful breakup with his girlfriend. To deal with this, he starts working at a supermarket at night where his imagination takes wings.

18. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Sleep Movies - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This 2004 sci-fi romantic drama stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as star-crossed lovers. They use the services of a company that removes memories of a person during their sleep. The protagonist, Joel spends most of the movie trying to preserve his memories while in a dreamlike state.

19. Inception

Sleep Movies - Inception

Inception is an Academy Award-winning sci-fi movie directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who uses dream-sharing technology for his heists. He steals information by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets.

20. Sleepwalk With Me

Sleep Movies - Sleepwalk With Me

Sleepwalk With Me is a 2012 American independent comedy film written, directed, and starring Mike Birbiglia. Based on a true story, the movie depicts the struggles of an aspiring comedian in denial about his career, the fate of his relationship, and his sleepwalking problem.

21. Sleeping Beauty

Sleep Movies - Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty is an animated Disney musical based on the children’s story of the same name by Charles Perrault. The story is the tale of Princess Aurora who is cursed by the evil fairy Maleficent and later tricked into pricking her finger by the spindle of a spinning wheel. Due to this, she goes into an eternal sleep only to be broken by the kiss of her true love.

22. Dear Zindagi

Sleep Movies - Dear Zindagi

This 2016 Bollywood coming on age drama follows the life of a budding cinematographer named Kaira. She is an independent and ambitious girl but is very discontented with her life. She finds it difficult to fall asleep and thus goes to Dr. Jehangir a free-spirited psychologist who helps her to gain a new perspective on her life.


What are the movies that make you go to sleep?

When I am very tired but not quite ready to pass out yet, I depend on easy to watch movies to make me feel calm and help me fall asleep. Some of such movies are, Last holiday, Clueless, Finding Dory, before sunrise, Annie, Bridget Jone’s diary, E.T, Twilight, Think like a man, 500 days of summer, High school musical, How to lose a guy in 10 days, He is just not that into you, Sex and the City, Pride and Prejudice.

Which horror movie made you lose sleep?

Some of the scariest movies I know are Death Note (2017), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Halloween (1978), and The Thing (1982), The Blair Witch Project, The Ring (2002), Conjuring (2013) and Oculus (2013).

How do you watch scary movies and sleep peacefully?

It is normal to find it difficult to go to sleep after watching a horror movie, especially at night. However, you must train your mind to think of movies as just that, a form of entertainment. Do not let your mind wander and overthink. If you find it difficult to fall asleep after watching a scary movie, you should follow it by watching something lighthearted and funny to distract yourself.

Featured Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Written by Tuhina Sahai

Tuhina Sahai is a law student studying at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She enjoys meeting new people and making friends. She finds as much comfort in going on outdoor adventures as she does in sitting in her room with a book, sipping tea. She is an avid reader and enjoys the works of authors John Grisham, Khaled Hosseini, Paulo Coelho, Arundhati Roy, etc.  She is passionate about music and art.

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