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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, we check out research into the best films to fall asleep to based on research into film cataloguing service Letterboxd.

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Tossing and turning all night? Counting sheep just not doing it for you anymore? Well, fret no more! A new study by bed furnishing experts at Bed Kingdom dives into the world of film cataloguing service Letterboxd to uncover the movies that will lull you into a peaceful slumber. They analysed more than 1,700 user generated lists which featured sleep-related terms such as ‘bedtime’, ‘fall asleep to’, ‘sleepy’ and ‘unwind’, to find which movies people most commonly watch to help them drift off. 

We’re talking calming visuals, soothing soundtracks, and narratives that are guaranteed to gently nudge you off to dreamland. So, ditch the melatonin and pop in a movie instead – but not just any movie! Buckle up as we explore the research and unveil the surprising titles that reign supreme in the realm of cinematic sleep aids.

Best Films To Fall Asleep To

      Rank      Movie title      Number of ‘sleep related’ user lists featured in 
     1.     Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)     109 
     2.     My Neighbor Totoro (1988)     108 
     3.     Spirited Away (2001)     107 
     4.     Little Women (2019)     98 
     5.     Before Sunrise (1995)     94 
     6.     Call Me by Your Name (2017)     92 
     7.     Pride & Prejudice (2005)     84 
     8.(=)     Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)     83 
     8.(=)     The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)     83 
     9.     10 Things I Hate About You (1999)     81 
     10.     Amélie (2001)     79 

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox on The Table Read Magazine
Fantastic Mr. Fox

Taking the top spot as the most popular film to fall asleep to was Fantastic Mr. Fox, with the movie featuring on 109 sleep-related lists. 

Adapted from the cherished Roald Dahl novel, the movie combines Wes Anderson’s signature deadpan humour, distinctive stop-motion animation visuals and a whimsy score.

Fantastic Mr. Fox follows the cunning Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) who, after years of stealing chickens and turkeys, tries to go straight for his family. But his wild instincts take over, leading him to raid the farms of three grumpy farmers. When the farmers retaliate, Mr. Fox and his animal friends must band together to survive.

The stop-motion animation creates a calming visual style, and the folksy soundtrack has a gentle, lulling quality. The film’s slower moments, especially when the burrowing animals tunnel underground, could easily lull you into a peaceful snooze.


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My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro on The Table Read Magazine
My Neighbor Totoro

In second place was My Neighbor Totoro, which appeared on 108 sleep-related lists in total. 

The Studio Ghibli animation My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of Satsuki and Mei, two sisters who move to the countryside with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mom. The sisters explore their new home and befriend friendly forest spirits, the most prominent being the giant, cuddly Totoro.

This whimsical film is a perfect bedtime companion for several reasons. The animation is hand-drawn and beautifully calming, with lush landscapes and soft colors. The story itself is gentle and lacks intense moments, focusing on the wonder of discovery and the power of imagination. The film’s score by Joe Hisaishi is light and soothing, with whimsical melodies that lull rather than excite. So, cuddle up with My Neighbor Totoro, and you might just find yourself drifting off to a peaceful sleep alongside Satsuki and Mei.


Spirited Away

Spirited Away on The Table Read Magazine
Spirited Away

Following in third was another Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away, with appearances on 107 sleep-related lists.  

Often considered Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Spirited Away follows Chihiro, a stubborn ten-year-old, who stumbles upon a magical world of spirits with her parents. After her parents are transformed into pigs for indulging in a mysterious feast, Chihiro must work in a bathhouse for temperamental spirits to free them and return to the human world.

While a visually stunning film, Spirited Away might not be the best choice for a sleep aid. The fantastical creatures and fast-paced moments in the bathhouse could be stimulating for a drowsy mind. The film also features some peril and suspenseful encounters that could jolt you awake if you’re close to sleep.

However, if you’re someone who finds comfort in strong narratives, there are lulls in the film’s pacing. The quiet moments with characters like the boiler man Kamaji might be calming. Additionally, the film’s score can be serene at times, featuring gentle melodies. Ultimately, whether Spirited Away sends you off to dreamland depends on your individual sleep preferences.


Little Women 

Little Women on The Table Read Magazine
Little Women

Coming in fourth was Greta Gerwig’s 2019 Little Women adaptation, which was included on a total of 98 lists.  

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, the period drama Little Women weaves a heartwarming tale of the March sisters – Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth – during the American Civil War. The film jumps between their childhood and adulthood, showcasing their dreams, ambitions, and the challenges they face as women of the time. Jo yearns to be a writer, Meg longs for a comfortable life, Amy desires artistic recognition, and Beth brings music and warmth to their family.

While the film explores themes of loss, love, and growing up, it does so in a gentle and nostalgic way. The period setting with its cozy interiors and warm color palette creates a calming atmosphere. The film’s score is also soft and sentimental, adding to the soothing effect.

However, there are moments of emotional intensity, particularly surrounding Beth’s health, which could potentially disrupt sleep. On the whole, though, Little Women’s blend of heartwarming story, calming visuals, and soothing music makes it a decent contender for a bedtime movie, especially if you’re already familiar with the story and its emotional beats.


Prime Video:

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise on The Table Read Magazine
Before Sunrise

Rounding out the top five was the first of the Before trilogy, Before Sunrise. The film featured on 94 lists, making it a popular choice for falling asleep to. 

Before Sunrise follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), two young travelers who meet on a train ride through Europe. Inspired by a chance encounter, Jesse convinces Celine to disembark with him in Vienna for a night of exploration. The film unfolds entirely through their conversations as they wander the city, discussing life, love, and their dreams. While their connection is undeniable, the looming reality of their impending separation hangs over the night.

The film relies heavily on conversation between the two leads, with long stretches of walking and talking through the city. While their conversations are engaging, the slow, introspective nature can be quite lulling. The film’s setting – the charming city of Vienna at night – adds a touch of romantic ambiance. The soft lighting and gentle music contribute to a calming atmosphere.


Prime Video:

Films To Fall Asleep To

Films are a popular choice for winding down. Most films air on TV in the evening, and the introduction of streaming services has made it easy for anyone to switch on a film when they want to fall asleep, so it’s no surprise that there are so many people documenting their favourite films to fall asleep to. 

Most films on the list have very distinct features in common. A delicate, relaxing, or otherwise pleasant score is one of the most popular elements to a lot of these movies. Soft instrumental music can easily lull someone into sleep. 

Stunning visuals or striking animation also seem to frequently occur among the films featured on the list. These can be mesmerising and easy to get lost in or find yourself nodding off to. 

Interestingly, a lot of the films featured on the list are very dialogue heavy. This is probably because it produces a low hum that makes comforting background noise and is easy to tune out of. 

There are also specific genres that dominate the list. Romance, coming-of-age and animation films appear a lot throughout the ranking, likely due to their light-hearted or tender themes. Films that spotlight character, mood and theme take prominence over films that are plot or action heavy.  

While films are clearly a popular choice for bedtime viewing, it is up for debate as to whether looking at screens before sleep is a good idea. Watching films, or any form of TV, before bed can typically have a negative impact on the quality of, and the speed in which, you fall asleep. 

This is because the bright blue-light can keep you awake, and loud, inconsistent sounds can disrupt your sleep. Watching TV before bed can potentially interfere with your circadian rhythm and impair your ability to function normally throughout the day, following a poor night of sleep. 

However, it can be down to the individual, and some films – such as many of the ones featured on this list – make a better choice to watch before sleep than others. If you really want to watch a film before bed, turning down the brightness and the volume can reduce the chances of it interfering with your sleep.

– Ashley Hainsworth, founder of Bed Kingdom

Sources: Letterboxd 

Methodology: A total of 31,786 movies entries were scraped from 1,718 user-generated lists from Letterboxd that included sleep-related terms in the list name. The total number of times each film appeared across these lists was recorded and compiled into a ranking of the films that featured most across the lists. The lists scraped included the following terms: ‘relaxing’ ‘bedtime’ ‘sleeptime’ ‘sleepy’ ‘fall asleep to’ ‘tranquil’ ‘calming’ ‘peaceful’ ‘serene’ ‘restful’ ‘unwind’ ‘cozy’ ‘lull to sleep’ ‘drift off’ ‘slumber’ ‘nap time’ ‘doze off’ ‘bedtime routine’ ‘dreamy’ and ‘wind down’.  

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