Some people find it particularly difficult to drop off to sleep, so much so that sleep technology aims to help these poor sleepers identify where they might be going wrong and what to do about it. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as flicking a switch and if one day sleep technology means it is, that day is possibly a long way off. That, however, is not the case for some sci-fi films, where being able to control sleep is often a big part of the plot. Whether it’s invading the realm of dreams, sleeping for hundreds of years or using a sleep like state to pass into another reality, sleep techniques are an important part of the plot in these films.
Perhaps the most well known film on this list, The Matrix follows the realisation by Nero that his world is a lie and instead is the means by which his alien captors keep the whole human race in a coma like state, using their bodies as fuel. Nero wakes from a coma that has lasted his entire life, encapsulated in a womb like pod, before escaping to join his comrades.
Once he has recovered Nero and the rest of the humans manage to re-enter this world by enforcing a sleep-like state on themselves, which involves hooking themselves up to machines. They then travel digitally into ‘the matrix’ which is the term they give to the fake world made by their alien captors.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
A somewhat broken love story, Joel and Clementine both hire Lacuna Inc. to erase their memories of each other after a particularly volatile breakup. What we then witness is Joel’s attempts to fight the erasure of his memories, chasing through the oldest memories he has in an attempt to keep Clementine in his head.
To remove the memories of ex-girlfriend Clementine, Joel takes sleeping pills and is fitted with a special helmet that scans his brain and deletes any trace of Clementine from his brain and life.
Passengers is a sci-fi romance thriller film set on the spaceship Starship Avalon as it makes its way to ‘Homestead II’, carrying 5259 human passengers. When a malfunction causes a problem with two of the cryogenic sleeping chambers in the ship, two of the passengers are woken 90 years too early.
Cryogenic sleep is something that’s been played with before, especially in sci-films that focus on space travel. Also featured in films such as Prometheus and Avatar, it’s a common method by which humans travel to different planets in this film genre.
This animated film focuses on the development of the DC Mini, a device that allows therapists to help their patients by entering their dreams.
The piece of sleep technology allows the therapist to enter the nocturnal fantasies of their patients as if entering another world, meaning they can directly witness the issues plaguing their patients and help them to decipher them. Unfortunately, the device is stolen and used to create a mass nightmar that causes chaos. Psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba uses her alter identity, ‘dream-detective’ Paprika, to enter the nightmare in order to intervene.
Our final film in this list is Inception, in which the main action is carried out within the dreams of different characters in the film. The film focuses on professional thieves who steal information for multi-million corporations. To do so they use military technology to infiltrate the subconscious of their target. The target is given a powerful sedative before being hooked up to the technology that then allows the protagonists to enter their subconscious, which they then manipulate to find the information they need.
What sleep techniques in films have you noticed? Let us know your favourites in the comments section.