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Scariest Portrayals of Sleep in the Entertainment Industry

Everyone can agree that sleeping is a wonderful thing. To be able to turn your brain off for multiple hours and rejuvenate for the next day is the best. 

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Films and TV know that since we love sleeping so much, scaring us with fictional disorders is a good way to disturb us. And the scariest portrayals of sleep in the entertainment industry did just that.

5 Movies About Sleep (& the Scariest Portrayals of Sleep in the Entertainment Industry)

Fight Club
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter (Actors)

Fight Club

Hopefully, it’s OK to talk about Fight Club, even if we break the first two rules. While the David Fincher classic is more about society, Edward Norton’s character is in a state of peril because of insomnia.

Hollywood tends to gravitate toward insomnia, considering a handful of films depict it. But if they want to scare the audience, having something that leads to a jacked Brad Pitt following you isn’t the best way to do it.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Actors)


You may not declare that Inception is a horror movie, but the idea of jumping into people’s dreams is terrifying. Christopher Nolan was on a hot streak with the success of his Batman trilogy, so there was a tremendous amount of buzz regarding Inception. The mind-bending masterpiece didn’t disappoint, portraying lucid dreaming, even if hopping in someone’s dreams is fictional.

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a girl sleeping with a phone beside her

James Wan’s Double Feature

James Wan has an impressive resume that started with the Saw franchise. However, that isn’t Wan’s only franchise that he created, with Insidious and The Conjuring having commercial success that led to sequels.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey (Actors)

Insidious has “The Further,” where you go and find the demons haunting you while you sleep. This out-of-body experience allows you to become two versions of yourself: one that is in the conscious and one in the unconscious.

The Conjuring
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor (Actors)

The Conjuring portrays a few sleeping disorders, all of which are bad news for Lili Taylor’s character, Carolyn Perron. She struggles with sleepwalking and sleep paralysis when an entity takes over her body, putting her beloved family in danger. As much as Ron Livingstone’s character hated working at Initech in Office Space, it beats a marriage to a possessed wife that’s trying to kill everyone in sight.

Scariest Portrayals of Sleep in the Entertainment Industry

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp (Actors)

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The unquestionably scariest movie about sleeping disorders is A Nightmare on Elm Street. Being fearful of falling asleep would be the worst, particularly when you need to invest time in sleep, and that’s what Freddy Krueger aims to do in this film.

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What’s truly frightening is that the documentary The Nightmare proclaimed that the real-life Freddy is what having sleep paralysis feels like. Having a disorder that gives someone an inexplicable fear of falling asleep is about as bad as Freddy Krueger.

The scariest portrayals of sleep in the entertainment industry may exist only in a make-believe world. However, they have some kernels of reality in them. Thankfully, the only time we’ll see Freddy Krueger is when Hollywood decides to make another sequel.

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