What should you watch when you can’t sleep? Netflix’s Original library is full of sumptuous documentaries, woozy love stories, and chipper comedies to help falling asleep go faster.
It happens to everyone: you’re all wound up and you can’t fall asleep. Maybe life’s got you tossing and turning, or maybe something stirred you from your slumber. Either way, you’re up. You’re staring at the ceiling, counting sheep, and hoping to fight your way back to dreamland.
But you don’t have to toss or turn or count those pesky sheep anymore. You live in the here and now and can put on Netflix. Netflix’s vast library of titles are full of soothing, feel-good fare that will help you destress and welcome slumber. The vividly beautiful foodie series, Chef’s Table: France is not only sublimely gorgeous to watch, but the non-stop French might also lull you to sleep like a literal lullaby. Netflix’s incredibly civil spin on The Real World, Terrace House, is a balm of kindness in these times of tumult, and the new supernatural love story The Innocents will seduce you with slow deliberation. Sure, there are some high-tension scenes, but you’ll be too busy counting all the cozy sheep wool sweaters that pop up to care.
These 7 Netflix shows will put you to sleep — in a good way.
- Is Falling Asleep With the TV On Really That Bad?
- Sleep stages and circadian rhythms
- What is ASMR?
- Netflix Documentaries to Fall Asleep to: An Illustrated Guide
- Napflix: The New Video Streaming App That Puts You to Sleep
- 8 Things You Should Watch Online To Fall Asleep
Is Falling Asleep With the TV On Really That Bad?
But the scientific intel that’s available so far seems to be a mixed bag: One study published in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that using media of any kind as a sleep aid put a damper on sleep quality, while another linked internet use to worse sleep quality, but not television use. “In my opinion, zoning out in front of the TV further promotes poor sleep hygiene,” says Chris Brantner, certified sleep science coach at SleepZoo.com. “However, an argument can be made that there are some positives to doing so.” (Interrupting the traffic jam of thoughts keeping you awake, for one.)
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The background noise might help you fall asleep faster
When you set the volume loud enough to drown out the thoughts bombarding your racing mind, but not so loud that it prevents your body from going into sleep mode, the effect might be similar to using a white noise machine, in that the ambient noise can help decrease the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, says Dr. Jain.
Plus, streaming a TV episode or movie that you’ve already seen multiple times can offer a sense of familiarity and comfort, making it less likely than a new binge-worthy show to trigger an emotional response that will keep you awake, says Dr. Jain. This is especially the case if what you’re watching is lighter in nature (think: sitcoms or Hallmark movies).
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The quality of the shuteye you score, however, can be easily compromised
Falling asleep with your TV on means you’re also soaking in blue light from electronics. This can mess with the quality of your sleep by suppressing production of melatonin (the hormone that keeps your sleep/wake cycle in check), and it can delay sleep onset (the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep), says Dr. Jain.
Between the flickering of the screen and the chance that whatever’s on next could be more stimulating content, you might linger in the lighter sleep stages—causing you to miss out on some of the important restorative work the body does during sleep, such as consolidating memories and healing muscles.
RELATED: Yes, Binge-Watching Really Is Messing With Your Sleep
Tweaking your pre-sleep TV habits might help lessen their negative effects
Watching TV on an actual television—as opposed to a tablet or phone that’s right in front of your face—may lessen the amount of blue light you’re subjected to, says Brantner. (Another option might be to turn away from the screen and only listen to the audio.) Disabling autoplay may also be helpful in boosting sleep quality: “It lowers the chances that your sleep will be disrupted in the lighter stages by flickering lights and changes in sound,” he says. You could even go so far as to set your TV to turn off automatically at a certain time in order to cut out light after you go to sleep.
Make sure you don’t become too dependent on TV as a sleep aid, either. Reinforcing the association between TV and sleep can make it difficult to drift off without it, says Dr. Jain, especially in environments where you don’t have access (say, during a power outage or camping trip).
One strategy might be to slowly whittle down your TV use and institute new calming bedtime behaviors like reading, meditating, or journaling, says Brantner. Having a variety of sleep-promoting options up your sleeve can help you steer clear of becoming too reliant on any one habit, which might increase your chances of scoring a quality night’s sleep no matter the environment you’re snoozing in.
RELATED: How to Recover From a Bad Night’s Sleep, According to Experts
Using your TV as a sleep aid might not be the best way to promote good sleep hygiene. But if the alternative is full-on sleep deprivation, it may be better than nothing—although more research needs to be done to know for sure.
“Since anxiety and the inability to quiet thoughts is one of the primary reasons people have trouble sleeping, it stands to reason that if the TV helps you calm down, you may as well use it to get to sleep,” says Brantner. In other words, Netflix and actually chill.
Sleep stages and circadian rhythms
Voiceover: Even though you’re not conscious during sleep, your brain is deceptively active. It goes through multiple cycles with distinct brain patterns, and it’s very important to your ability to perform normal functions when you’re awake. You have four main stages of sleep which occur in approximately 90 minute cycles during a normal night of sleep. The first three stages are all considered non-rapid eye movement, or non-REM which I’m going to abbreviate as N1, N2, and N3. N1 is the stage between sleep and wakefulness. This is when your brain starts producing theta waves. You might experience strange sensations known as hypnagogic hallucinations, just kind of a fun name. These can include hearing or seeing things that aren’t there such as seeing a flash of light, or a lot of people hear someone calling their name, or a phone ring, or a doorbell, or something like that. Or if you’ve been doing something really repetitive just before bed, then that can recur in your hypnagogic state. For example, if you’ve been on a boat all day, you may still feel like you’re on water when you drift off to sleep even if you’re on dry land. Or something that’s actually called the Tretis effect, if you’ve been playing Tetris for a long time right before bed, then you might experience visual images of blocks or something all moving in the same direction kind of like the blocks in the game. Another common feeling during this stage is a feeling of falling. That leads to what’s called hypnic jerks, or those muscle twitches you sometimes experience as you fall asleep. So that’s N1, our first, lightest stage of sleep. Then we move into N2 which is a slightly deeper stage of sleep. Although it’s still pretty easy to wake up someone in N1, people in N2 are harder to awaken. We see more theta waves as well as something called sleep spindles and K-complexes. Sleep spindles are these bursts of rapid rhythmic brain activity. There’s a lot we don’t know about the purpose of each sleep stage and the function of these brain waves, but some researchers think that sleep spindles help inhibit certain cognitive processes or perceptions so that we maintain a tranquil state during sleep. For example, sleep spindles in some parts of the brain are associated with people’s ability to sleep through loud noises. K-complexes are kind of similar, but they’re a different type of brain activity that’s also thought to suppress cortical arousal and keep you asleep basically. They’re also thought to help with sleep-based memory consolidation which is the theory that some memories are transferred into your long-term memory during sleep. What’s cool is that even though K-complexes do occur naturally, you can also make them occur by gently touching someone who’s in this stage of sleep like just brushing against their skin and that will induce some K-complex activity. What your brain does is sort of assess that the touch on the skin is non-threatening, and it suppresses the processing of that stimuli to help keep you asleep. Beyond N2 we have N3. This is our last non-REM stage. N3 is also called slow-wave sleep because as you might guess brain waves are very slow. These are called delta waves. They have a range of about point five to two hertz. You get basically a half to two oscillations of these brain waves per second. When you’re in N3 sleep, you are very much dead to the world, and really difficult to wake up. If you walk or talk in your sleep, this is the stage where those things happen. The last stage we need to talk about is REM sleep. REM is R-E-M, stands for rapid-eye movement. That’s because this stage is when your eyes move really rapidly beneath your lids. Also, most of your other muscles are paralyzed. This paralysis might actually be a good thing because most dreaming occurs during REM sleep. If you weren’t paralyzed your muscles might act out whatever you were dreaming about which could be unsafe for you and anyone sleeping near you depending on what type of dreams you have. REM sleep is sometimes called paradoxical sleep because your brain actually seems very active and awake, but your body is prevented from doing anything. It’s kind of crazy. Now in a normal night of uninterrupted sleep, you cycle through these stages about four or five times each. It takes about 90 minutes to go through a complete cycle, but the order, it doesn’t just go one, two, three, REM. The order within a cycle tends to go from N1 to N2 to N3 and then back to N2 before entering REM sleep, and then back to N1, and then it starts all over again. How long each stage lasts depends partially on how old you are, and partially on how long you’ve been asleep. You tend to do a lot more slow-wave sleep, or N3 sleep in the first few hours, and then more REM sleep right before you wake up. That’s why if you really want to try to remember your dreams, you can set your alarm to go off a little earlier than usual like 15 minutes so you’ll get jerked out of REM sleep and are more likely to remember what you dreamed. You know that you get tired probably around the same time every afternoon or evening, and you might wonder how your body knows when to fall asleep, or why a lot of people get tired in the afternoon. The answer lies in something called our circadian rhythms. Just like our sleep has cyclical stages, so does our wakefulness, and our transition for wakefulness to sleeping. Circadian rhythms are our regular bodily rhythms across a 24-hour period which is also called our internal biological clock. These cycles control our body temperature which rises during the day, and then takes a brief dip in the early afternoon, and then goes up again in the evening, and then falls during the nighttime. So it can control our body temperature, and our sleep cycle, all sorts of things. Daylight is a big queue for circadian rhythms, and even artificial light can affect your circadian clock. That’s why when you travel somewhere with a big time difference, airplanes will usually adjust the lights in accordance with the time zone of your destination. They’re trying to help you reset your biological clock, but resetting that clock can take time which is when you experience jet lag. Your biological clock says it’s time to go to sleep, but your new time zone says it’s time to wake up. That transition can be a little taxing if you’re traveling. These circadian rhythms also change as you age which is why a lot of younger people tend to be night owls, but as they age older people tend to wake up and go to bed early. Your circadian rhythms can also prevent you from sleeping in when you want to sometimes. So maybe you get up every day at six AM Monday through Friday, and then Saturday you can finally sleep in, but you’ll still wake up around six AM. That’s because your internal biological clock has adjusted to you waking up at that time so it regulates your metabolism, body temperature, sleep cycles so that you wake up at the same time.
What is ASMR?
ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is still a relatively new creation. It describes a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds. What kind of visual or audio clips can create such a lovely feeling? It might surprise you, but the videos are of people doing incredibly simple, quiet, calming tasks, such as folding towels, brushing their hair, or flipping magazine pages. You might hear someone’s voice speaking in the background of the video, but not always. The audio clips often consist of voices whispering nice things (like “You are appreciated”), or contain the sound of tapping, scratching, or rain.
ASMR doesn’t work for everyone and it can be tough to imagine the sensation if you don’t experience it first-hand. For most people who do experience it, the blissful tingling starts up in the scalp and then makes its way through the body to the arms and legs. And as a result, it can trigger a feeling of relaxation before bedtime, which can help you overcome insomnia. The audio/video segments are long—in fact, some last up to an hour. They are lengthy so that you can keep watching or listening to them until you drift off.
There are two ways that people can experience ASMR. You can experience it through simple meditation or just thinking about a scene or sound that pleases you. Or you can experience it through watching a video or listening to a recording. As for the mechanisms at work behind ASMR, nobody is quite sure why some people react the way that they do. It could be that the videos remind you of your childhood (perhaps, for example, you watched your mom do the same action as a kid, so it’s comforting) or that the simple sounds lull you into a relaxed state. Ready to give ASMR a try? Find some videos on the YouTube channel for GentleWhispering, ASMR University, and ASMRlab.
If you’re trying to get some rest, you probably shouldn’t be looking at electronic screens at all: They emit blue light, which suppresses a hormone called melatonin that’s produced by your brain at night to induce sleepiness.
Of course, good advice is often ignored, and I’m just as guilty of that as anyone else. If you absolutely must stay glued to your laptop or phone before bed, consider firing up Napflix to help you get some shut-eye quickly.
The site curates and serves up truly boring videos from YouTube in a range of categories that are bound to put you to sleep. Browsing around while at my desk, I found myself dozing off to ‘3 Hours of Relaxing Aquarium Fish, Coral Reef Fish Tank & Relax Music‘ and a documentary on the art of Bonsai.
Besides obvious clips like an hour-long one of an hourglass with blue sand and someone quietly tending to a miniature zen garden, you’ll also find more novel choices like relaxing in-game footage from Euro Truck Simulator 2 and an exploration of some guy’s dad’s old stamp collection.
While you can just visit the site and click on the highlighted video on the homepage, you’ll want to watch out for content that may actually keep you engaged (and awake), like this glorious National Geographic documentary about the life of pandas. I love pandas and was stuck on that one for much longer than I’d like to admit.
Slow TV has been catching on of late, as this wildly popular show from Norway by the same name showed when it aired a 7.5-hour-long train ride from Bergen to Oslo and garnered 2 million viewers in the country. Hopefully, you won’t enjoy Napflix so much that you end up watching it through the night.
What are your favorite videos to fall asleep to? Share them in the commentzzz.
Via AV Club
Boring videos have never been so good.
While on most days you probably wouldn’t seek out the Internet’s dullest videos, you might be able to put the clips to good use after all. If you need help falling asleep, that is.
That’s the premise of Napflix, a website that curates a playlist of some of YouTube’s most boring videos in order to help insomniacs slumber.
The simple website looks a bit like Netflix. And it helpfully uses a dark theme to avoid bright light while you’re browsing the clips. On it, you can find delightfully snoozy videos like “Burning Fireplace,” “Traditional Latin Mass,” “Quantum Theory” and (my personal favorite) “Test Card.”
Yes, “boring” is a subjective measure. But the site really does have something for everyone. Should you find “Einstein for the Masses” too stimulating you can always try “The Walking Chicken,” or perhaps “Life of Panda” is more your speed.
Víctor De Tena, one of the creators of Napflix, says he was inspired after watching “a typical goalless football match.”
“I started to think about all the things that I usually watch around my nap time that help me sleep,” he wrote in an email to Mashable. “This generated an idea: Gather all that content with the idea to build a siesta digital platform that helps you nap.”
Now, we should note that science says looking at screens before bed is actually a terrible way to fall asleep. But the reality is many people do rely on some kind of white noise or video for help. And insomnia is something millions of people struggle with. So, if watching a 43-minute long video of an apple farm can help, who are we to stand in your way?
Drew Ackerman, the creator and host of the podcast “Sleep with Me,” tells labyrinthine stories that are intended to put insomniacs to sleep—and are downloaded roughly 1.3 million times each month.Illustration by Min Heo
According to Greek myth, Hermes, the cleverest God, used his inimitable wit to tell stories so long-winded, so fatuous, that they lulled the many-eyed monster Argus to sleep. By the same logic, insomniacs of modern times are often advised to read the phone book or—the classic choice—to count sheep before bed. Unfortunately for them, there’s a good chance that such techniques are useless. Patients who counted sheep in an Oxford University study had no better luck falling asleep than a control group. Insomniacs who struggle to stay awake during presentations at work often find, when they climb into bed at night, that anxiety crowds out the body’s attempts to signal its sleepiness. In such situations, what the sleep-challenged need is not sheer boredom, a state slipped passively into, but the scantest grasp of mild amusement, from something that is distracting without being stimulating. The ideal bedtime story, according to Nitun Verma, a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is one that “doesn’t build upon itself,” like a movie “with a lot of parallel stories that don’t connect at the end.”
Drew Ackerman, a.k.a. Dearest Scooter, the forty-two-year-old creator and host of the popular podcast “Sleep with Me,” has an ingenious intuition for this narrative balancing act. In the three one- to two-hour-long episodes he releases each week, he keeps his voice gravelly, at the bottom of his vocal range, and so slow that his upstate-New York accent takes on a tinge of Southern drawl. His sentences are mazelike constructions that turn on countless “if”s, “or”s, and “so”s; he drifts off into pointless tangents, or doubles back to ask himself if he really means exactly what he just said. His plots are equally labyrinthine: a recent few episodes centered on a magical female pirate named Lady Witchbeard; another imagined a secret war between See’s Candies and Whitman’s Samplers. In his Sunday-night-TV recaps—the most recent batch of which is titled “Game of Drones”—he might delve into a meditation on the Red Priestess Melisandre’s eldritch choker necklace, which might then inspire a detailed exploration of the science behind mood rings. Where a traditionally good yarn pulls the listener effortlessly along, the fibres of Scooter’s stories gradually unravel into wayward puffs of wool. These zany tales are downloaded roughly 1.3 million times each month; last year, the show broke iTunes’ list of top-fifty podcasts.
In one sense, “Sleep with Me” riffs on the trope of boring listeners to sleep—in his preamble, Scooter sometimes calls his show “the podcast the sheep listen to when they get tired of counting themselves.” But the brilliance of Ackerman’s technique is the way in which he calibrates his monologues to grab you ever so slightly: he seems always on the verge of being funny or interesting or profound, but, like narrative tantra, he never quite lets himself go all the way. In an episode that aired in January, he boasted of his “near ability” to tell “stories that can get to moderately interesting.” “When some people tell a story, like a Grandpa Simpson story, the needle will just barely move,” he said, whereas the “really refined” stories of a podcast like the Moth are in the “high green.” His narratives linger carefully in between, “in that old yellow zone.” “With my stories you’d say, is the oven on? It must be on. I don’t know what’s going on with your oven. It’s just, uh, it’s gonna need about twelve more hours in the oven.”
This masterfully maladroit storytelling is no simple achievement. Ackerman, who works for the library system in California’s Bay Area and started the podcast to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a writer, says he labors for an average of fifteen hours over every hour of “Sleep with Me,” spending much of it editing out aberrations in pacing or tone. (He recently hired his first freelance editors, and is seeking listener support or sponsorship to make the enterprise sustainable.) “It’s definitely about controlling my dynamic range,” he told me. “I’ll be like, ‘Whoa, I got a little excited there,’ so I might try to cut that out.” He studiously avoids any content that might elicit strong emotions in listeners. “Even slipping a word like ‘spiders’ in, I’ve learned, ‘Cut it out.’ ” Altogether, he has crafted hundreds of hours of stories over roughly four hundred episodes.
I first heard “Sleep with Me,” which launched in 2013, when I stayed over at the house of a friend who listens to it religiously. My own insomnia comes and goes, but I was in a bad phase at the time, and I found that I drifted off faster on her leaky air mattress, with Ackerman’s soft drone filling the dark room, than I had been able to in my bed at home. Ackerman has learned from user feedback that many of his listeners fall asleep during the twenty-minute introduction, and I’m usually one of them. I find it soothing that his openers are almost always more or less the same: Ackerman repeats some version of his pledge to “create a safe place where you can set aside whatever’s been running through your brain.” “Whatever it is that, every time you try to close your eyes or relax, it kind of jockeys for your attention,” he says, “I’m gonna take my voice here and send it across the deep dark night.” (For those who don’t like the opening, Ackerman also releases what he calls “Sleep to Strange,” a version of the podcast that goes straight into his bizarro stories.)
Listening to “Sleep with Me,” I often feel as if Ackerman’s ramblings work by tricking my brain into believing it is drifting off, emulating the peripatetic workings of the dreaming mind. But, when I asked sleep experts if that sounded plausible, they dismissed the idea. Milena Pavlova, a neurologist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, warned that, if the podcast was prolonging my slide from wakefulness to sleep—during which it’s possible to have fragmentary dreams—it might even be harming my rest. Even the doctors who saw nothing wrong with the podcast considered it, at best, “a Band-Aid,” in the words of Rafael Pelayo, a clinical professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. Distracting a racing mind, they insisted, was no substitute for ameliorating it through better sleep hygiene: limiting caffeine, alcohol, and screen time, and soothing anxious thoughts through meditation or circumscribed list-making before hitting the bedroom, which is reserved for “sleep and intimacy” only.
But Ackerman, who has struggled with insomnia since childhood, thinks the podcast may work, in part, because it isn’t prescriptive like a doctor’s orders—which present insomniacs with yet another opportunity for failure. The podcast “is there, but you don’t have to fall asleep,” he said. “There’s not a right or wrong way to use the show.” Though most listeners say they nod off long before the end of his tale, Ackerman is superstitious about the importance of bringing each and every one full circle, like any good bedtime story—of providing the familiar comfort of narrative wholeness. “I think, even though they never listen, the fact that the story is in some way complete is the thing that makes it work,” he said. Sometimes, he closes by simply saying thank you, individually, to a motley list of people, real and imagined. Other times, he comes up with something more fanciful. At the end of a recent episode, which consisted of an imaginary walk through a mall in the future, Ackerman sent his voice across the deep dark night to tell whoever was still awake, “Thank you. I’m just happy to know you. Thank you for spending this time walking this mall with me, it was wonderful, yes, and we will be eating our pizza together.” Yes, they still have pizza in the future. “O.K., good,” he said. “Good. Let’s get in line for the pizza. Thank you.”
Between his breakthrough hit Memento and his blockbuster smash Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan helmed Insomnia (2002), the American remake of the icy, sun-bright 1997 Norwegian noir. Relocated to Alaska and starring Al Pacino in the role played by Stellan Skarsgård in the original, it’s built on the same motif: the 24 hour daylight of the Arctic summer as the unblinking light of truth.
Pacino plays L.A. cop Will Dormer, who arrives gaunt, tired and sleepy-eyed to a quiet Alaskan village to investigate a murder. He’s under investigation back home and the assignment is an escape of sorts, but guilt follows him north and his eyes just get blearier and more hollowed out as he’s kept awake by the rays blasting through his hotel window, a visual scream that burns through to his conscience.
Nolan shifts the moral ground from the snowballing moral corruption of the original to shades of guilt and accountability and Pacino’s increasingly bleary and hallucinatory perspective becomes an evocative metaphor for his struggle.
Robin Williams is unexpectedly chilling as the self-pitying suspect who blackmails Dormer with damning evidence (his explanations and justifications make him all the more unsettling and creepy). Hilary Swank has a more thankless role as a hero-worshipping rookie investigator on hand largely to play angel to William’s devil, but she pulls it off and Martin Donovan is Dormer’s doomed partner.
Don’t expect a nail-biter: the moody style creates action scenes more evocative and entrancing than adrenaline pumping, but it features evocative imagery, a compelling story, and one of Pacino’s best performances of the 21st century.
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The Blu-ray and DVD editions get an impressive collection of supplements. The commentary track by director Christopher Nolan presents the scenes in the order the film was shot (and accompanying subtitles counting up the production days and identifying the scene numbers). It may sound like a high-concept gimmick but it becomes an interesting way to experience the physical realities of film production while Nolan’s comments speaks volumes about the relationship between the creative and the production process. A second track is edited from the comments of Hilary Swank, screenwriter Hillary Seitz, cinematographer Wally Pfister, editor Dody Dorn, and production designer Nathan Crowley, which can all be experienced separately (click a name and jump directly the scenes they discuss). Also includes the interview featurette “180°: A Conversation with Christopher Nolan and Al Pacino” (Pacino, in all his relaxed regality, naturally becomes host, Master of Ceremonies, and interviewer), the too-brief 8 minute “Day For Night: The Making of Insomnia” and accompanying 5 minute production peaks “In the Fog” (featuring director of photography Wally Pfister and production designer Nathan Crowley each discussing their work and commenting on behind-the-scenes footage), the 7 ½ minute “Eyes Wide Open” (about insomnia: the sleep disorder), an extended scene with optional director’s commentary, a gallery stills, and the trailer.
Netflix Documentaries to Fall Asleep to: An Illustrated Guide
Sep 15, 2017 · 4 min read
Written and illustrated by Kelly O’Grady
As children, our parents read us bedtime stories to send us to dreamland, but as adults we really don’t have that luxury. If you’re like me, you have roommates and thus have to try to fall asleep to the rhythm of video-game explosion noises or your roommates engaging in loud, drunken intercourse. Usually, I elect to drown out the din by watching documentaries on Netflix.
I would advise not to watch documentaries that are too riveting, because then you’ll just stay up all night watching them; hence, documentaries to avoid include crime docs (Making a Murderer) or ones about government conspiracies and UFOs. You’ll run the risk of subliminally taking them in and then waking up as a murderous, paranoid alien conspiracy theorist who wears tinfoil hats.
Slow and mildly interesting are the key. Here are some selections of Netflix movies that I find useful as a sleep aid.
The Civil War
A documentary by Ken Burns, 1990
Very dry narration over black-and-white photos of dusty people during the Civil War, with sad, old-timey violin music playing on top of it. Eighty percent of this movie is people reading letters, like, “Dearest Martha, they sawed off my foot today; then we ate some hard tack”—blah, blah, blah. Really, any Ken Burns movie is great to fall asleep to because they’re all four hours long and feature a lot of old people describing things.
The Endless Summer
A documentary by Bruce Brown, 1966
A movie about beach bums driving around one of those cool old wooden station wagons as they surf around the world. This is a great movie to fall asleep to because it’s full of mellow surf music and the sounds of waves crashing, with the narrator occasionally saying something like, “Mike really caught a crunchy wave.”
Tesla: Master of Lightning
A documentary by Robert Uth, 2000
Some business tycoons and Thomas Edison conspire to rip off the patents of a crazy foreigner—that would be Tesla—who also happened to be sexually attracted to both electricity and pigeons. This movie culminated in Mr. Tesla dying in a flophouse after years of abject poverty. You may wake up in the morning with a more-than-casual understanding of alternate eletrical-current systems and a general contempt for Thomas Edison.
History of the Eagles
A documentary by Alison Ellwood, 2013
This documentary chronicles the ups and downs of ’70s music group the Eagles, and just like the music of the Eagles, it’s boring. You can find out about how Don Henley wrote the song “Hotel California” while taking a dump. In terms of sleepiness, this one is a double threat due to both the soundtrack and the subject.
Wicked Chowdah There, Fitzy!
A documentary by Kristoff Walker, 2011
This documentary follows the everyday life of a septuagenarian named Pat Fitzpatrick who sells clam chowder out of a cart in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Boston accents in this film are almost as thick as Pat’s chowder, to the point where the entire thing is subtitled. It’s like if you took all the cop drama out of Martin Scorcese’s The Departed and just made it about a foul-mouthed old man.
If you fall asleep to this movie too often, you’ll start talking like Mark Wahlberg.
Napflix: The New Video Streaming App That Puts You to Sleep
For those in the habit of watching Netflix to fall asleep at night, you know that it’s all too easy to end up hooked on your latest binge obsession, watching episode after episode until it’s 3 a.m. Well, now there’s a new streaming site designed to target this exact problem. “We all know the feeling of insomnia. Your body wants to sleep but your mind is still awake and active,” explain the founders of Napflix, “a video platform where you can find the most silent and sleepy content selection to relax your brain and easily fall asleep.”
It sounds like it’s straight out of an SNL skit, but the website really does exist. Their wide-ranging selection, which pulls in from YouTube, is definitely sleepy. You can find everything from a TV ad for a power juicer to a documentary on quantum theory to the 2013 World Chess Final-just choose whatever sounds most boring to you. There are also more traditionally relaxing options like waterfall nature sounds, a burning fireplace, or a three-hour video of a tropical beach with white sand and palm trees. Following in the footsteps of Netflix, there’s original Napflix video content too, including a 23-minute black and white video of the subway ride from Canal St. to Coney Island (we’ve experienced that before IRL, and we can attest, it really will put you to sleep in minutes.)
Still, looking at any kind of screen right before bed is generally the biggest no-no health and sleep experts will give you. That’s because electronics emit a blue hue that mimics daylight, which stops your body from producing the sleep hormone melatonin, said Pete Bils, vice chair of the Better Sleep council. (And on top of sabotaging your sleep, the light exposure before bed is also tied to weight gain.) This is why you’ve heard over and over again to turn off all electronics one hour before bedtime.
However, if you’re truly addicted to your screen, experts suggest downloading apps like f.flux and Twilight that will automatically begin dimming your electronics’ screens to minimize the amount of blue light you see at night. (More on that here: 3 Ways to Use Tech at Night-and Still Sleep Soundly) Similarly, Napflix offers silent videos like, ‘Zen Garden Sleep’ that feature decreasing brightness which might make them a better selection for your bedtime entertainment (if you can call it that).
While reading an old-fashioned book is always going to be a better sleep inducer than looking at a screen, if you’re going to be watching something anyway, Napflix could be a way to drift off faster-unless, of course, you’re just dying to watch a Tupperware documentary from the 1960s. To each their own, right?
- By Kylie Gilbert @KylieMGilbert
8 Things You Should Watch Online To Fall Asleep
All we want after a long day at work is a good night’s sleep, but unfortunately sometimes insomia just kicks in. But before you take a pill of Xanax, we recommend you try watching these videos online to help you fall asleep, naturally. See if you can make it through the end of our list.
- Cats, Dogs, Panda and More Cat Videos
Watching these animal videos, which are entertainingly cute, can really put you to snooze too. Try watching a documentary of super cute animals, or the live cam trained Bei Bei. Not only will this help you fall asleep, it will also give you cute thoughts to dream of.
Meditation does not only help you clear your head, it also puts you to sleep. Luckily, there are YouTube meditation videos that will help you relax. Also, meditation requires you to close your eyes, which is also favorable!
- Nature Programs
Perhaps you like watching movies or drama series on Netflix, who doesn’t? But you really shouldn’t watch these films before bed because all it will do to you is get you excited to watch the next episode, and then you’ll find yourself still awake at 3 A.M in the morning. We suggest watching nature programs such as endless archives of PBS’s Nature series, which will put you into deep slumber.
- Really, Really, Really Boring Videos
We fall asleep during math and science classes just because it’s boring. So why not watching something really boring to put yourself to sleep, purposely this time. A video of a 7-hour train ride should do the trick!
- Space Out, Literally
If you’re still awake then we have to try something that is out of this world, literally. Try watching silent images of the Earth taken from the Space Station. If you can’t get to sleep on your own bed, then maybe on another planet.
Hypnotism has helped a lot of people get aid mental illness, an addiction, and even insomnia. So why don’t we try it? A cure for insomnia is progressive relaxation. Luckily, YouTube have videos that can walk you through the process with soothing vocals and visuals.
- Time-lapse Video
If you still can’t sleep, then try watching the grass grow. We’re not kidding. You’ll find gentle time-lapse videos on YouTube such as watching a 10-minute shots of paint drying, fire crackling or wind sweeping a beach on the channel 10minutesofyourlife.
- Drawing Videos
Have you tried watching someone draw mountains, flowers, and a sun into a canvas while talking in a very monotones voice? If not, then you should check ’80s PBS show The Joy of Painting. The host’s hair is pretty wild and crazy, but his show is a visual tranquilizer. If this doesn’t put you to sleep, then better stick to counting sheep.