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Insomnia Episode

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Exactly What It Says on the Tin, an episode or installment of a TV show, movie series, etc. that deals with a major character having insomnia. The plot almost always revolves around the character and his or her friends trying to find a way to resolve the problem, although sometimes it also revolves around the insomniac character refusing to accept his or her friends' help as they go about something they consider to be of vital importance. If Played for Laughs, expect the insomniac character to race around doing all sorts of crazy things while the other characters get increasingly fed up.

See The Insomniac for a character who is usually suffering from sleeplessness.

Sleep Deprivation is a Super-Trope. Compare "Getting Ready for Bed" Plot and Sleep Aesop.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • Crayon Shin-chan: One of the comic strips has Hiroshi attempting to sleep early because he need to catch the 5.00am train to Osaka for a business meeting, but his attempts at dozing off is repeatedly interrupted by Shin-Chan's nighttime antics that includes sleepwalking, shouting aloud in his sleep for dreaming he's Action Mask, waking up and being scared to use the bathroom. Eventually Hiroshi - reluctantly escorting Shin-Chan to the loo at around 3.00am - decides since he's near the toilet, he might as well take a leak too, and upon exiting the toilet sees Shin-Chan offering him a canned drink from the fridge since he looks thirsty. Hiroshi gladly takes a swig before turning the can around... and realize Shin-Chan had just given Hiroshi one of his high-energy isotonic drinks.
  • Gintama: In one chapter/episode Kagura is unable to sleep and constantly pesters Gintoki to help her. Desperate to return to his slumber, he reluctantly gives her a few tips but is unsuccessful because she overdoes them all (runs several laps around town when advised to exercise and overeats when given food, making her extremely out of breath or bloated with a Balloon Belly instead of sleepy). By the end of the story, Kagura is finally able to sleep while listening to the radio... however Gintoki no longer can, thanks to a surprisingly creepy story from the radio scaring him.
  • Ojarumaru: In Series 13 episode 9, Ojarumaru finds himself unable to sleep and asks Kazuma to sing him a lullaby. The lullabies he sings, as well as the ones sung by other characters who are pulled into the problem, keep failing to satisfy Ojarumaru.
  • The Way of the Househusband: In Chapter 53, Tatsu has difficulty sleeping after watching a paranormal show and tries various methods to help him fall asleep. These methods include counting yakuza and making himself warm milk (which then escalates to him whipping up a whole meal, with the logic that eating a lot of food that helps you sleep = will make him sleepy).

    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Cubs: Season 2 episode 23 is about Luna Lu having a sleepover with Violet, who finds herself unable to sleep. They both stay up the whole night, with Violet especially finding ways to fall asleep.
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 5 episode 51, Little M. finds himself falling Asleep in Class often, and Big M. uses numerous methods - Counting Sheep, using a rock pendulum, etc. - to get him to sleep at night, to no avail.

    Comic Books 
  • A Scrooge McDuck comic had him unable to sleep after overseas travel due to jet lag. He eventually manages to make himself fall asleep, and wakes up in the morning... only to find out that he's been asleep all day, and it's actually evening of the next day.
  • In the Warrior Cats graphic novel A Thief in ThunderClan, a recurring problem throughout the book is Brightheart having trouble sleeping due to her Flashback Nightmares and stress about everything going on in ThunderClan at the moment. She spends several scenes looking up at the stars and trying to investigate the prey that's going missing from the camp, and tries to get advice from some of her Clanmates.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: The plot to "The Insomniac" focuses on Mittens being plagued by bad dreams and unable to sleep.
  • "Nighty Shut Up!" from Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has Calvin unable to sleep when the monsters underneath the bed won't stop partying. He solves it by using the Time Pauser to sleep as much as he wants.
  • Fate/Gamers Only: Comics 076 and 077 involve Rikku trying to sleep and responding to everyone's noisy bickering with snarky statements as she tries to get some rest. Once Caligula arrives, Rikku reaches her Rage Breaking Point and orders El-Melloi II and Tomoe to kill him on the spot.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In How to Sleep, an episode of Robert Benchley's "How to..." Faux-To Guide series, he's instructing the audience on how to get a good night's sleep. The Benchley in the video consistently fails. The end of the film cuts back to Benchley the instructor, falling asleep at his desk.

  • A recurring trouble in Book III of The Faerie Queene is characters being unable to sleep due to love-sickness:
    • In Canto III, we hear about how Britomart had trouble sleeping for days after experiencing Love at First Sight out of a mix of fantasy, confusion, and guilt that eventually compels her to hunt down her love.
    • In Canto IV, Arthur has a monologue that lasts through the night about how Dark Is Evil and the night brings out the worst of men's fears, regrets and sorrows that make it difficult for them to sleep anyway. The canto ends at dawn, with Arthur riding away completely exhausted.
  • Little Critter: Goodnight, Little Critter has Little Sister not being able to sleep and waking up Little Critter about it. Hilarity Ensues as Little Critter tries to get her to go to sleep and succeeds...only to be unable to get to sleep himself!
  • In Postman Pat's Sleepy Days, an 80s picture book based on the Postman Pat series, Pat can't sleep at night, which interferes with his post rounds. Everyone in Greendale has a suggestion to help, but none of them seem to work. Eventually, his wife Sara sees him reading their son Julian a bedtime story, and figures that if it works for Julian, then maybe it will work for Pat. Luckily, it does.
  • Roys Bedoys: In “Go to Sleep, Roys Bedoys!”, Roys has trouble sleeping because he hears the wind and mistakes it for a monster, gets hungry, gets thirsty, wants his zombie plush, and then gets a stuffy nose.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures in Wonderland episode "The Bunny Flop" combines this with a Sleep Deprivation plot. The night before the Queen and the White Rabbit are scheduled to appear on a live TV talk show, the White Rabbit is too full of Stage Fright to sleep. The next day he's exhausted and wants to take a nap before the show, but the Queen sends him searching through all of Wonderland for her missing shoe, so he has no time. He ends up dozing through the talk show.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, the episode "33" deals with the entire crew being sleep deprived for roughly 5 days straight, due to the Cylons having been attacking them every 33 minutes for that entire duration.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In one episode Sheldon is unable to sleep as long as he's left a specific science problem, one he's having a lot of trouble with, unsolved. Over the course of the episode he steals peas, then makes diagrams with marbles, and when those are not big enough he breaks into a generic Chuck E Cheese type place to use the balls from the ball pit. Bernadette tells him he would probably be able to solve it if he weren't so sleep-deprived, but he doesn't listen.
    • "The Anxiety Optimization", has a similar plot, with Sheldon raising his anxiety levels in an attempt to optimize his performance. Again, he ends up sleep deprived and hallucinating about armadillos.
  • On an episode of The Big Comfy Couch Loonette talks about the previous night where she and Molly barely slept since, as she put it, their brains were so excited and couldn't stop thinking to go to sleep. They go out to explore the house at night and think about why they must sleep. Later on Granny goes to tell them that you need sleep every night to relax and stay healthy, and encourages her to go to bed early.
  • In one episode of Family Ties, Alex is unable to sleep, even when his family offers various ways that usually help them sleep.
  • On one episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah is put in a sleep ward when she has been unable to sleep for two straight weeks. Subverted when at the end of the episode we find out that the sleep ward plotline was All Just a Dream, which she was having while being held captive by a man she had shot earlier in the series, although it is hinted that she was still having sleep problems before this.
  • There is an episode of Two and a Half Men where Alan has trouble sleeping and visits a psychologist to hilarious effect and it's revealed that because Alan is resentful of Charlie for having such an easy life and how he almost never suffers, Alan can't sleep. By the end of the episode, Alan can sleep again because he got his wish of seeing Charlie suffer.
  • The aptly titled Emergency! episode "Insomnia", where John just can't get to sleep during a run of night shifts, and becomes convinced he'll be able to sleep after they get a nighttime call. At the end of the episode, the station does get a nighttime call, but not for the rescue squad. Not to be discouraged, John grabs onto the rear handhold of the leaving fire engine and falls asleep on his feet.
  • M*A*S*H
    • In "Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde", Hawkeye winds up going 3 days without sleep (lots of casualties plus his own inability to sleep between surgical shifts). He was even ordered to go to bed and responded with "not now, I need a little sleep".
    • In "No Sweat", no-one can get to sleep during an intense heatwave. Charles spends the entire night organising his tax returns, only for someone to helpfully turn on a fan full-blast when he's finally got them sorted. Meanwhile Colonel Potter takes a powerful sleeping pill, so Hilarity Ensues whenever someone tries to wake him up to get something authorised.
  • One episode of Bonanza had Ben Cartwright unable to sleep because of noise around the house including Hoss' snoring, Adam's guitar playing, and Little Joe chasing his girlfriend with a bell, eventually he decides to rent a room in a hotel for the night but finds himself in more predicaments from the guests interrupting him every time he gets to sleep, including an obnoxious drunk, a quarreling newlywed couple, and one man out to kill another for winning all his money in a poker game.
  • Monk once found himself unable to sleep after meeting a woman he couldn't stop thinking about, and not even romantically. After solving the crime of the week, he realizes the woman was the recipient of a cornea transplant and his late wife Trudy was the donor.
  • One episode of Empty Nest had Harry unable to sleep due to a recurring nightmare. It takes Barbara's detective skills to figure out the reason for the nightmare.
  • Mr. Bean has trouble sleeping one night after being kept awake by everything from motorcycles to cats. His final solution is to count sheep—by using a calculator to figure out how many are seen in a picture.
  • An episode of the The Drew Carey Show had this as its plot. After Kate married a Navy pilot and moved with him to a base in Guam, Drew goes several nights without sleep because every time he does, he dreams about her leaving. It gets to the point where it seriously starts to affect his daily life, and eventually his sister in-law, Mimi, takes him to a junkyard brandishing a shotgun. Drew thinks she'll finally put him down, but she gives him another shotgun, and explains that she felt so sorry for him, she had to do something. After shooting some garbage, Drew goes home and comes to the realization that he and Kate were not meant to be together and that he has to move on, and finally gets some much needed sleep.
  • Odd Squad: The episode "In Your Dreams" revolves around the Little O being unable to sleep due to the Dream Weaver, a villain who turns bad dreams into nightmares, planting her "Bad Dream Machine" in one of her dreams, and turning the rest of them into nightmares as she goes on a wild goose chase looking for it. The Mobile Unit works with O'Becca, an Odd Squad Sleep Scientist, and decides to help the Little O look for the machine and stop the Dream Weaver by having Orla and Osmerelda go into her dreams. The Little O ends up being so sleep-deprived that even when she, Orla and Osmerelda beat the Dream Weaver and she can have good dreams again, she falls right back asleep just as quickly as she woke up from her indoor-pool dream.
  • One Foot in the Grave: "Timeless Time" is a Bottle Episode involving Victor and Margaret as they struggle to get to sleep in their bedroom, not helped by occurrences such as a hypersensitive car alarm.
  • Yo Gabba Gabba!: In one scene of "Sleep", Muno can't take his nap because he's afraid of sleeping alone. His rock friends sing to him to think of happy things to feel better so he can sleep.

  • Paddy McAloon's album I Trawl The Megahertz was written while he was temporarily blinded by surgery and unable to do anything at night but sit and listen to late-night radio call-in shows. The title track is a 22-minute monologue by a woman suffering from insomnia trying to make sense of her life.
  • "Paranoimia" by Art of Noise features Max Headroom monologuing about trying to get to sleep.
  • "I'm So Tired" from The White Album was inspired by a bout of insomnia John Lennon experienced while The Beatles were on retreat with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

    Puppet Shows 
  • LazyTown:
    • The episode "Sleepless in Lazy Town." Pixel has been tired lately because he's deprived himself of sleep to play video games all night, until Sportacus tells him that a goods night's sleep every night is another thing needed to stay healthy and be active during the day. When Robbie Rotten gets word of this he deprives Sportacus of all sleep so he has no energy to play in the town's big baseball game.
    • In "Hero For A Day" Robbie is the one dealing with no sleep, which has made him extra cranky and in the mood to cause chaos for all his friends.
  • Sesame Street: In the third-to-last Season 31 episode, Ernie sleeps over at Big Bird's nest, but can't sleep, so he keeps Gordon up with his endless demands.
  • Tweenies: "Go to Sleep, Fizz!"
  • Yo Gabba Gabba!!: In "Sleep," Muno can't sleep, so his friends sing him a lullaby.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: One sketch in series 2 has a man with an important meeting having done everything he can to make sure he'll get enough sleep being stymied by sudden, unshakable insomnia. In song form, meaning it's shouting about why he shouldn't sleep. It only relents at seven in the morning, at which point the man figures if he just shuts his eyes for a moment, he might be okay...

    Video Games 
  • Madison from Heavy Rain suffers from chronic insomnia, which we mainly see in a paranoid delirium episode early in her arc.

    Web Animation 
  • The Siblings episode "Don't Sleep, Robby!".

  • One arc in Because I'm Depressed has Diego completely unable to sleep for over a week. He's only cured of his insomnia after Eve gives him a dose of elephant tranquilizer.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Zimmy doesn't sleep. When infected with the spiders around Zimmy's mind, Jack Hyland also becomes sleepless for a short while, and gets more and more mentally unstable until Zimmy finally removes them.

    Web Original 
  • In Twig Arc 6, Tooth and Nail, Sylvester is so upset by the absence of Jamie that he stays up all night reading Jamie's journals instead of sleeping, as a result getting about five nights of sleep in two weeks.

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
  • The The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "Rock-A-Bye Pooh" had Piglet unable to go to sleep, due to a bad dream that he had where he lost his friends while they were going on a picnic. Pooh, Rabbit, and Tigger then work hard using different methods to try to get Piglet to go back to sleep, but to no success, until a storm blows up to which Piglet's dream does sort of come to reality. Fortunately for him, he's reunited with his friends in the end and he is able to sleep at night again.
  • Arthur:
    • In the episode "Sleep No More", Buster is picked as one of the contestants to compete in an All-You-Can-Eat Pizza contest, but he finds that he cannot sleep because of pizza-related dreams that continuously plague him. There, he meets up with other contestants who also cannot sleep due to the excitement of the contest. Because of this, the contest is cancelled until everyone can get a good night's sleep.
    • In "Buenas Noches, Vicita," Vicita loses her favorite bedtime storybook, The Very Magic Mango Tree, and can't sleep without having it read to her. To help her, Arthur and D.W. create a "do-it-yourself" copy of the book with the help of Vicita (who knows the story of the book by heart), but that night, Vicita realizes that she didn't finish the story properly, as its protagonist, Uaica, fell asleep in a tree at the end of the story when he was supposed to climb down and fall asleep under it. Becoming worried that Uaica may fall down from the tree unless she gets him down soon (she's 3 and ½ years old), Vicita falls asleep and has a dream where she and her stuffed llama Raulito (who becomes a fully animate Talking Animal in her Dream Sequence) are looking for Uaica and the magic mango tree he fell asleep in so they can get him down and Vicita can sleep again. The episode has Vicita's parents suffering from Sleep Deprivation as well, since on the night that Vicita lost The Very Magic Mango Tree, they had to stay up all night reading her several other storybooks in an unsuccessful attempt to help her fall asleep; her mother is shown taking a nap on a bench on the playground of Vicita's preschool the next day.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, "Nightmares and Daydreams": Aang is troubled by increasingly worse nightmares and ends up staying awake... only he stays up so long he starts hallucinating. The season 2 episode "The Chase" is a lesser example, as the focus of the episode is on the chase that keeps the entire Gaang awake and on the run, but insomnia does take its toll.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show, "Insomniac Ren". Everything from chirping birds to Stimpy's dreams keeps Ren awake.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: "Quiet Riot" has Dee Dee trying to help Dexter fall asleep (and, of course, making things worse.) The episode ends with Dexter finally falling asleep... under Dee Dee's bed, keeping HER up all night with his snoring.
  • An episode of Home Movies has Coach McGurk suffering from insomnia, and eventually signing up for a program that studies insomnia. Notably doing it long enough will allow him to get a DVD player, so near the end of the episode when he's gotten over it, he's still trying to stay awake.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Inspongiac", has Mr. Krabs ordering SpongeBob to get a good night's sleep for work, but finds himself unable to fall asleep. He asks Patrick for help, who of course makes things worse.
  • One episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog gives the Sandman himself (as in the ruler of all sleep and dreams) insomnia; he's the Lord of Sleep, and isn't able to sleep himself for some reason. (As one of his sheep-like minions says, "Yes, ironic.") After staling Muriel's sleeping sand so that he can sleep, it turns out that the reason he couldn't was because his teddy bear was missing. (No wonder.)
  • In one episode of The Smurfs (1981), Gargamel is having terrible insomnia. Eventually, he looks up a sleeping spell in his spellbook, and casts it on himself using a mirror. That works, but it makes him sleepwalk... right into the Smurf Village. Suffice to say, Hilarity Ensues from there.
  • In an episode of Cow and Chicken, Chicken accidentally eats a bowl of his dad's coffee-flavored cereal, and ends up going crazy on a three-day caffeine buzz.
  • Looney Tunes
    • The 1937 short Porky's Badtime Story (later remade as Tick Tock Tuckered) has Porky Pig and Gabby Goat (the latter replaced by Daffy Duck in the remake) trying to get up early so they won't get fired for being late for work. After a hard night of awakenings, they manage to show up for work, only to find that it's closed on Sundays.
    • The 1940 short Good Night, Elmer has Elmer Fudd being kept awake by a candlestick flame that won't go out.
  • The Woody Woodpecker short The Coo-Coo Bird has Woody trying to get up early for quail hunting but various things within or outside his house keep him awake.
    • Later, the short Sleep Happy has Wally Walrus being kept up by Woody's snoring.
  • The House of Mouse short "Hickory Dickory Mickey" has Mickey being kept awake by Goofy's alarm clock.
  • In the Fairly Oddparents episode "Beddy Bye" Timmy becomes angered after falling asleep repeatedly and missing a few big events, so he wishes that the whole town never had to sleep. Things turn out nice at first with everybody staying up to party all night but soon the effects of long-term sleep deprivation kick in for the whole town, which also nearly puts the Sandman out of business because his daytime job is a mattress salesman, and nobody has a use for a mattress when they don't sleep. Also he gets his power from people sleeping so, because no one's sleeping, he's slowly shrinking out of existence.
  • Beat Bugs
    • In "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," Buzz, after hearing a Ghost Story about a Bug Zapper, can't go to sleep.
    • In "I'm So Tired," Jay can't get to sleep because of the loud noise coming from a neighbor bug who's trying to add-on to his house at night due to his family multiplying as insects often will do. The neighbor constructs at night because there's the sweeping, working, washing, etc. to keep up with during the day. Jay's loud activities to keep himself distracted create a chain reaction keeping the other Beat Bugs awake. They decide to try to solve the problem by working themselves during the day to construct the add-on, but Buzz keeps falling asleep on the spot while they're trying to work, Crick is driving a crane tired, and Kumi can barely stay awake either.
  • Bali has "I'm Not Scared" and it's no surprise that Bali can't get to sleep when he has to listen to the sound of a noisy truck outside, his little sister crying loudly (because of the truck), his neighbor playing the saxophone and a horse neighing on television elsewhere in the house among other things.
  • The Dragons: Riders of Berk episode "The Longest Day" features the characters going on without sleep because of the annual midnight sun, a time where the sun does not set for 2 whole weeks. Each of the characters are shown to suffer a variety of symptoms brought on by this.
  • In the ChalkZone episode "Asleep at the Chalk", Rudy sneaks into the night-time part of Chalk Zone to avoid having to go to bed at night. Eventually the effects of sleep deprivation kick in, leading Rudy to make some careless choices that start causing harm for the residents of Chalk Zone, so Snap has to work to get him safely back home.
  • Little Princess has the episode "I Don't Want to Go to Bed", in which the Princess cannot sleep, due to first not feeling tired, then being thirsty, then needing to pee, then believing there's a monster in her room, then being lonely, then being kept awake by the maid's snoring.
  • The Manly Bee has "Bad Dream Machine", all thanks to the villain using the titular machine to wake everybody up in the middle of the night.
  • Ready Jet Go!: In "Jet Can't Sleep", Jet is unable to fall asleep because he's so excited about a storm happening at the moment. His family tries absurd methods to get him to go to sleep, but Celery gets him to sleep using a lullaby.


Video Example(s):


"The Longest Day"

The Midnight Sun is an annual two-week long astronomical event where the sun does not set. The perpetual day time is driving the vikings bonkers to varying degrees from a lack of sleep.

How well does it match the trope?

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