Ebb’s Top Ten: Sleep Movies


At Ebb, we think a lot about sleep and more specifically about insomnia. This made us wonder, what are the best movies about sleep? So, we surveyed our team to create a list of Ebb’s top ten favorite movies about sleep.

1. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

A young boy calls a radio talk show to find his recently widowed father, Sam, a partner. Anonymously speaking on the radio, “Sleepless in Seattle,” Sam details the insomnia caused by his grief.

Ebb comment: We are romantics at heart, so we chose this movie as our favorite. We also understand how stressful times in our lives can cause acute insomnia.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Bill Pullman, Rosie O’Donnell

2. Inception (2010)

A thief steals corporate secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable.

Ebb comment: There seems to be something fascinating about our dreams making this one of our top picks.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

3. The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix is a computer-generated prison designed to keep humans asleep while their body heat is used to power a world ruled by machines. When people are freed they are “born” into the waking world.

Ebb comment: While sleeping forever is not appealing, we can appreciate the experience of feeling reborn after a good night sleep.

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne

4. Before I Go to Sleep (2014)

Every day, due to a brain trauma in her past, a woman wakes up with no memory of her husband or her life from her early twenties onward. As she records her daily life in hopes of remembering, she begins to discover the terrifying truths and is forced to question the sincerity of everyone around her.

Ebb comment: If this is what she has to look forward to when she wakes up, we wouldn’t be surprised if she develops insomnia.

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth

5. Fight Club (1999)

The main character, Edward Norton suffers from insomnia. It gets so bad that he becomes schizophrenic and generates a new persona to cope with his sleep deprivation and overwhelming discontent.

Ebb comment: Why would we pick such a sad movie? Lucky for the Ebb team, we have a neuroscientist a team member, who tells us that when we empathize with other people (even fictional ones on screen), our brain releases oxytocin, which engages brain circuits that prompt us to care about others.

6. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

This Disney movie is based on a classic fairy tale, which involves a beautiful princess, a sleeping enchantment, and a handsome prince had to make the list. The 1959 movie was originally a failure. Thanks to its release, the movie has been massively successful.

Ebb comment: The Ebb Team’s mission and the movie’s tagline “awaken to a world of wonders” have a lot in common.

Starring: Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley

7. The Machinist (2004)

Trevor Reznik is a machinist in a factory. An extreme case of insomnia has led to him not sleeping in a year, and his body has withered away to almost nothing. He has an obsessive compulsion to write himself reminder notes and keep track of his dwindling weight, all scribbled on yellow sticky notes in his apartment.

Ebb comment: Not surprising, but we seem to connect with the devastating effects of insomnia.

Starring: Christine Bale

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A brutal serial killer torments a girl and her friends, killing them one by one in their dreams. As the survivors search for why they’ve been selected, the phantasmal murderer won’t waste any time to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Ebb comment: Why do we like scary movies? One reason is that there is a sense of achievement. Like any personal challenge, we stress ourselves by watching and finishing the movie unscathed. Even though we knew we were always safe, we feel we still accomplished something. This makes sense to us at Ebb, because we are all about accomplishing our goals.

Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund

9. Insomnia (2002)

A sleep-deprived detective is sent to a small Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. Forced into a psychological game of cat-and-mouse by the primary suspect, the detective finds his own stability dangerously threatened as events escalate.

Ebb comment: The Ebb team certainly likes a thriller, or we wouldn’t work for a start-up company. The detective in “Insomnia” experiences slower reaction time and weakened memory which we know results from sleep deprivation.

Starring: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank

10. Before Sunrise (1995)

A classic boy-meets-girl movie in which the main characters stay up all night talking because they might not see each other again.

Ebb comment: It ended up at the bottom of our list.  Although we like the romance, we can’t get over the fact that anyone would waste valuable sleep.

Starring: Ethen Hawke, Julie Delpy

We would be remiss not to mention that as part of good sleep habits don’t be tempted to watch movies all night in your bed. The more time you spend in bed awake, the more your brain connects being in bed to being awake.  We want everyone to experience healthy sleep.

This Ebb blog post was republished with permission from Ebb Therapeutics. See their blog here.

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