Movies To Help You Fall Asleep
10 min read
Last Modified 15 September 2023 First Added 20 September 2022
Sometimes, drifting off while watching something helps us sleep sounder. Everyone has their go-to comfort film when it comes time to hit the hay, and we’re included in that! So, here’s our favourite film to fall asleep to. We’ll also touch on the science behind why films can both help us to wind down and limit our ability to drift off.
A magical realist work of art, the cult classic Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki is arguably the most popular anime film of all time. With themes of abandonment and the dream space running right through its veins, this is a film perfect for promoting sleep. Boundlessly imaginative, the film centres around Chihiro, a ten-year-old girl who enters the world of Kami – spirits of Japanese folklore – in search of her parents.
Subtle and dreamy with no sharp edges, Lost In Translation is our second-highest recommendation for falling asleep. For those not so interested in lo-fi films, this one may be considered boring or slow, and so ideal for helping you unwind. The story centres around a famous celebrity who travels to Tokyo to film a whiskey advertisement and ends up striking an unusual bond with a young woman left alone while her husband is busy working.
The themes of loss and loneliness are strong and it could be argued the film is a masterpiece of space and emptiness: achieved through limited dialogue and a quietly brilliant soundtrack. Clearly, this lack of direct action is great for helping you to relax.
Critically, the film won numerous awards including an Oscar for Best Writing and Screenplay, a BAFTA for Best Performance by an Actress in A Leading Role and plenty, plenty more.
Gather the family, grab some sleep-inducing snacks and embrace this classic British film before bedtime. Sincere, enchanting and atmospheric, The Railway Children is great for family sleepovers when you need to wind down energetic youngsters before they trot off to bed.
Based on the novel of the same name by E. Nesbit, the film tells the story of the Waterbury Children, who, having recently moved to a small house by a railway station, occupy their time watching trains roll past. Their father, recently imprisoned on false charges, needs his children to come to his aid. With the help of a local policeman, they set about saving their father in the hope of reuniting the family.
Another film to switch off to that’s filled with space and silence, Drive is a “visceral take on art-house action” that delves into the criminal underworld of a neo-noir Los Angeles. Occasionally interrupting that silence and lack of dialogue is a stunning soundtrack of lo-fi beats and synth-wave perfect for helping you turn the lights down on your day.
Granted, there are some dark and gruesome scenes definitely not for the faint-hearted but this is a film all about the slow build-up, making it perfect if you plan to be asleep before the climactic final scene.
Telling the tale of a car mechanic and stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, Drive is a film about what happens in the shadows. Many scenes take in the open roads of night-time and with frequent references to old-school Hollywood Noir, this is definitely a film to watch in the depths of the evening. And despite the very action-movie plotline, this is a film filled with dreamscape, sepia-tinged cinematography guaranteed to help you unwind at the end of a stressful day.
The snowy, still landscapes of Fargo, North Dakota play an important role in this cinematic masterpiece by the Coen Brothers. A slow-burn of noir-crime drama, this is an ideal film for nodding off to. The story centres around a collection of characters committing every level of crime, including kidnapping and murder.
Despite the dark nature of the crimes, Fargo is deemed a black comedy and is often interlaced with humorous, light-hearted moments. Most importantly for sleep though, it’s the slow-moving scenes, the open roads, and the drawn-back Minnesota accent which make this a real winner for inducing sleep.
One of the twentieth century’s most-loved epic fantasy trilogies, the Lord of The Rings is most likely a film you have seen before, and perhaps on more than one occasion. This makes it absolutely perfect for helping induce sleep as you don’t have to pay too much attention but won’t end up confused as to what’s going on.
The Fellowship of The Ring contains the least battle and action scenes and is therefore our best recommendation of the set. That said, Two Towers has frequent scenes of a long walk towards Mordor which is low in dialogue and slow-paced.
Another Coen Brother’s movie to make the list, this sepia-tinted, modern revision of Homer’s The Odyssey blends reality and myth in a happy-go-lucky, light-hearted plotline. A comedy-drama starring George Clooney and John Turturro, O Brother Where Art Thou tells the tale of three convicts who escape their chains and set off on a long journey to find £1.2 million in cash.
Their journey sees them navigate the open landscapes of rural Mississippi and it’s this which helps it make our list. Long scenes of walks in the open countryside are great for inducing sleep. There’s even a very dreamlike sequence based on the Sirens myth which is famously known for lulling all who hear their songs.
We’ll hand the mic over to Dumnem from Reddit for this review of the classic Disney art experiment in all things phantasmagorical:
Fantasia is a good movie to fall asleep to. Not because of the music, but because it’s incredibly boring.
Honesty it’s like being in a classroom and being lectured by a dry professor about the moral dilemma of ostrich farming. It doesn’t make much sense, it seems superfluous, and to your sleep deprived and caffeine addled brain it seems entirely made up, but you’re somehow sure that if you rest your eyes for a moment it might actually make sense. Then you’re asleep.
Our own research highlighted that the peaks and troughs within the soundtrack, alongside bright and lively animations, may detract some from sleep. This is why we’ve placed this as our last recommendation. The reason it makes the list is down its surreal nature which may aid our ability to relax.
While the term lo-fi is most commonly used in relation to audio, there’s a rising interest in “lo-fi films” which basically means soft-edged, nostalgia-heavy films which are great for relaxing. Whether that’s to play in the background whilst studying or to help relaxation, these films are great for softening the effects of stress and helping detract from worry and anxiety. Here’s our top 5 lo-fi films to help you fall asleep:
A common part of most of our childhoods, Disney films offer a multitude of benefits for helping promote sleep. We all know the plotlines and characters and this ensures we don’t have to pay too much attention as the film progresses. There’s also something to be said about the feel-good factor which is present in all Walt Disney tales. Here’s our top 5 Disney films to help you fall asleep:
According to Healthline, blue light is reduced with black and white screen mode.
“Dark mode is intended to reduce blue light exposure and help with eye strain that comes with prolonged screen time.”
As blue light can delay sleep, it may be wise to choose monochrome movies to help you unwind. Here’s our top 5 suggestions:
Blue light emitted from screens tricks the body into thinking it is daytime and blocks the natural rhythms your body needs to sleep. Your body also needs to cool down slightly to achieve sleep so snuggling up under the duvet can also limit your ability to nod off.
To counteract this, let your feet breathe, avoid too many blankets or duvets, and ensure your room is at a comfortable temperature. Leaving your window open while the film is playing can also help.
We’d also recommend, where possible, choosing to watch a film as part of your bedtime routine but allowing at least 30 minutes without the screen on before you turn off your lights and bed down.
However, it’s likely you’ve already made the decision to watch a film while you attempt to reach the land of nod. If so, it’s crucial to understand that watching TV can get in the way of your body’s natural sleep process. Make sure you reflect on whether your film for sleep is actually aiding your snooze or getting in the way. If that’s the case, you may be best trialling another evening routine for sleep.
If you’ve trialled films to help you sleep, or are conscious of the negative impact of the screen on your ability to nod off, you may want to consider healthier alternatives:
Expert insight clearly states that sleep meditation techniques are great for promoting sleep. Particularly because they don’t involve any electronics which disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle. Centred around breathing exercises and focused attention, meditation for sleep is a much healthier alternative to watching films to help you sleep.
Reading before bed provides all the benefits of movie plotlines but without the risks of blue light. Coupled with a salt lamp for sleep you’re more likely to fall asleep than if you choose a film. Healthline state:
Keeping a journal by your bed offers a multitude of benefits to help promote a good night’s rest. An article published in the US National Library of Medicine identifies how writing a specific to-do list before sleep can help improve sleep:
The present experiment highlights bedtime writing as a potentially beneficial (or potentially costly, depending on past or future focus), easily administered, behavioral sleep aid for young adults who may not present in a clinical setting.
The idea is that writing down what you have to do the next day helps you from overthinking when you’re trying to settle down. And you can even go beyond just a to-do list and fill in a gratitude journal or reflect on your day.
And that’s a wrap… as they would say filming a movie. Next time your day comes to a close, pop on one of our favourite movies to fall asleep to. Sit back, relax, and allow yourself to drift away into the land of nod.