How many films with a reference to ‘sleep’ could you name?

The cinema is generally a wide-awake kind of place to visit. The seats may be much more comfortable than they used to be in earlier days, but you wouldn’t want nod to off in the middle of the latest blockbuster, especially at today’s blockbuster prices.

You might also be reluctant to pay good money to watch a film that had anything at all to do with sleeping. But that doesn’t seem to worry a surprising number of movie makers.

How many films do you think you name could with some reference to sleep in the story’s title?


Perhaps half a dozen? And how many more would you guess there might be altogether? Perhaps as many as fifty? Surely there couldn’t be more than a hundred?

The actual number is quite staggering – more than enough to keep a pub-quiz compiler stocked with movie-themed questions for years.

According to that most authoratative of online compendiums, the Internet Movie Database, not only have more than a dozen films simply taken the single word “Sleep” as a sufficiently descriptive title over the years, but the number of productions named with some reference to slumber in general – using either sleep, sleeping or sleepless in the title – has reached an amazing total that exceeds five hundred.

First and foremost, there was “The Big Sleep” (1946), the classic Bogart and Bacall movie – and the best known release in more recent years was “Sleepless in Seattle”, the romantic weepy/comedy with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

But there were many, many more. Although perhaps not all so memorable.

Preceding “The Men Who Stare at Goats” (2009), with Ewan McGregor, George Clooney and Kevin Spacey, there was “The Sleep Room” (1998), a decade earlier true-story dramatisation that was also about CIA research on mind control. Later, and in lighter vein, there was not only “To Sleep with Anger” (1990), a family comedy with Danny Glover; but also “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” (2010), a documentary about the “Elm Street” series of horror films with enough unseen footage and behind the scenes revelations for even the hardest of hardcore Freddy fans.

“The Perfect Sleep” (2009), was a crime thriller that begins with a film-noir style voice-over narration intoning:

Just once, just once, I’d like to keep the perfect sleep. You know the one I’m taking about. You fall asleep on a train, or someone’s couch, and it’s perfect. The ecstasy of the unlikely. And then some idiot wakes you up and you can’t get it back, no matter how hard you try. You never knew it was perfect until you lost it. And all you have left is that burning desire to get it back. The perfect sleep.

Of course, that’s what everybody wants – perfect sleep – especially at home where it counts most. And fulfilling that dream is what memory foam mattresses were developed to achieve.

There have even been a few films about mattresses, at least according to their titles. They include the short comedy “Mattress of Solitude”, a tale released in 2000, starring Superman and Batman in an escapade that probably involved rigourous comfort testing of a super king-size memory foam mattress of the kind that super heroes undoubtedly need to get a good night’s rest.

A film about ‘the memory foam story’?

Surprisingly, Hollywood has so far failed to come up with a big-screen epic that tells the fascinating story of how America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invented memory foam in the 1960s to enhance comfort for fliers, how it was adapted by hospitals to provide mattresses for long-stay patients – and ultimately reached the domestic market in the 1980s, where the memory foam mattress continues to set new standards in chronic pain alleviation and improved sleep patterns to this day.

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