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Sleep with One Eye Open
Stock Phrases about keeping someone on edge during the night.


Comic Books
  • An "interview" with Sonic the Hedgehog in one of the special editions of Fleetway's Sonic the Comic had the hedgehog claim he always slept with one eye half-open in order to catch any sneak attacks by Robotnik (who, at the point in this series that this interview took place, had successfully taken over the world, making Sonic Properly Paranoid). The interviewee turned out to be a robotic clone, however, and the real Sonic didn't feel like being cooperative to the interviewer; thus, the veracity of the claim is unknown.

  • Bride Wars
    Liv: If I were your wedding, I'd be sleeping with one eye open...
  • Gunpowder, Treason & Plot
    Lord Darnley: I am one of the finest swordsmen in England, Bothwell.
    Bothwell: Well, you're in Scotland now *your majesty*!
    Lord Darnley: Then sleep with one eye open.
  • The Professional.
    You have to sleep with one eye open for the rest of your life.
  • Gangs of New York
    I have to sleep with one eye open.
  • The Blind Side
    Tell him to sleep with one eye open.
  • Ladyhawke
    And sleep with one eye open.
  • Mean Machine
    You sleep with one eye open, son.
  • Dance of the Vampires
    The best thing is to sleep with one eye open.
  • Freebird
    I think you should sleep with one eye open.
  • Twin Daggers
    I have to sleep with one eye open.
  • Gary Unmarried
    Hey, do yourself a favor, pal. Sleep with one eye open.
  • A sort of prayer from Reign of Fire:
    What do we do when we are awake?
    Keep two eyes on the sky.
    What do we do when we sleep?
    Keep one eye on the sky.
    What do we do when we see them?
    Dig hard, dig deep, go for shelter, and never look back.

  • In The Hobbit, Smaug does this when he realizes that there is an intruder in his lair. It's not a problem for Bilbo since he can turn invisible at least until the dragon sniffs him out.
  • In Scott O'Dell's The Black Pearl, the Sevillano does this while holding a knife in his hand and the pearl in his feet.

Live-Action TV
  • Firefly episode "Trash".
    Simon: [To Jayne] Now, we could circle each other and growl, sleep with one eye open, but that thought wearies me.
  • Oz episode "Ancient Tribes"
    Augustus Hill: I gotta share a pod, McManus. I gotta sleep with one eye open.
  • Bat Masterson episode "High Card Loses"
    Bank Manager: I hope you enjoy your stay in Las Cruces.
    Bat Masterson: I will now. I have no lock on my hotel room. It takes twice as long to sleep with one eye open.
  • Used twice on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
    • "It Had to Be You"
    Vivian: (after hearing that Phil said she's bossy) You better sleep with one eye open, Philip.
    • "When You Hit Upon a Star"
    Hilary: (to Will about her missing her hair appointment because of his party) Sleep with one eye open!

  • Brandi Carlile's song "Shadow on the Wall" contains the lyrics:
    I don't really want to be safe
    It must have been the way I was raised
    Sleep with one I open, I say
  • Metallica - "Enter Sandman":
    Sleep with one eye open, gripping your pillow tight
  • Kaleidoscope by Stuart Davis. On YouTube.
    A patient dream that wants to rise
    I will not close more than one eye
  • Ludes' "Girl With One Eye":
    But now she sleeps with one eye open, that's the price she'll pay

Tabletop Games
  • The Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000 can literally sleep like that, thanks to an implant in their brains that allows them to keep one brain hemisphere awake while the other is resting.

Video Games
  • Persona 3: Akihiko says this when SEES decides on investigating a ghost story.

Western Animation
  • in The Hair Bear Bunch episode "The Bear Who Came To Dinner," Peevly tells Botch to keep an eye on Square Bear 24 hours a day—Square is in a body cast recovering from a supposed injury, and Peevly wants to catch him faking it. Botch winds up falling asleep—with both eyes open. Hair tests it out:
    Hair: Mr. Botch...your shoes are on fire! (Botch does not respond)

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