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The Sleepless

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"As far as I'm concerned, sleep is evidence of laziness."
Ryuk, Death Note

Let's face it, sleep is inconvenient. It leaves you vulnerable to your enemies and it wastes a huge portion of your day that you could use for all sorts of stuff.note  Wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to sleep?


In Real Life when normal people don't sleep they develop Sleep Deprivation: a host of physical (weakening the immune system and decreasing tolerance to glucose) and mental (increased anxiety, stress, depression, problems with motor actions) problems, up to the point where it indirectly kills them, or directly kills in the case of certain illnesses. Surprisingly, fiction is usually quite aware of this and takes the time to either handwave the problem or make the effects a plot point. Your Artificial Human may or may not be able to avoid sleeping depending on how biological their body is.

A Sub-Trope of The Needless. Contrast The Insomniac, who really ought to sleep but doesn't; people who cannot sleep might actually fall under both. The Triple Shifter will be one or the other, either implicitly or explicitly. Also not to be confused with Never Sleep Again, where a character still needs to sleep, but going to sleep could have fatal consequences. Such a character probably doesn't reside in a Sleepless Domain. Or Seattle.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Blood+: Chevaliers do not need to sleep.
  • Death Note:
    • Only once is L seen sleeping, and even then he sleeps while sitting at his computer, in his signature crouch/sit. He also has huge bags under his eyes, but seems to suffer from no serious side effects beyond a certain eccentricity.
    • Shinigami in general don't need to sleep. They're still capable of it, but it serves no purpose, and they consider it to be merely a form of laziness.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, within a Fanbook trivia Gotouge comically reveals all demons are actually physically incapable of sleeping, detailing the scenario that during the day demons simply fight against boredom as they hide from sunlight since they cannot take a nap until night falls; this information also makes Nezuko even more special by making her the only demon in existence that can sleep in order to replace the need of preying on humans to sustain herself and become stronger.
  • Alphonse from Fullmetal Alchemist discovers that his artificial body is incapable of sleep. At one point he claims the greatest reason for wanting his real body back is that he gets so lonely at night. Envy also comments upon the supreme weirdness of seeing the old man sleeping. The regular homunculi don't appear to be incapable of sleeping, but also don't appear to actually need it based on their work schedules and things; none of them are ever actually seen to engage in sleep.
  • In Gate 7, Sakura cannot sleep unless he has "skin contact and human warmth" since the day he has no longer an oni.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler's Hayate sleeps less than an hour a night: He goes to sleep at 4 AM, and is dressed and preparing breakfast at 5 AM. He's apparently been like thissince he was six. Apparently justified due to having to work jobs repeatedly to pay off his parent's debt.
  • In Heaven's Lost Property, Ikaros says that she and other angeloids do not sleep. She slightly regrets this because she cannot have dreams.
  • Dragons from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid do not require sleep, though they are capable of doing so (there's an entire chapter devoted to discussing the subject). Fafnir in particular regularly pulls all-nighters while gaming and at one point states that he plays games an average of 21 hours per day.
  • Gaara of Naruto was like this for a long time, partly because if he did fall asleep Shukaku would take over his body. This almost certainly contributed to his mental instability (though he had a few other issues too).
  • The two main girls in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou are afflicted by this, for similar reasons:
    • Mashiro because of her tendency to work heavily on her art into the night, so she goes to bed very late and usually has to be woken up by someone else.
    • Nanami mostly because she's overworking herself by studying and working several jobs (so as to pay for her voice acting training). This catches up with her in episode 6.
    • Sorata suffers from this trope occasionally due to Mashiro sleeping in his room, and especially during the School Festival arc where he was working long hours to ensure his project would be done in time.
  • In a flashback in One Piece, Buggy tells Shanks of a rumor that Marshall D. Teach aka Blackbeard has never been seen sleeping. The lack of a need for sleep may be part of the hinted unique body structure that allows Blackbeard to host at least two Devil Fruit powers without dying.
  • Ichico Nemuri of Undead Unluck is the Negator Unsleep, which gives her the power of not being able to ever sleep. While she does appreciate the extra time to work on her scientific research and inventions, the sleep deprivation gradually wears on her, which ends up killing her shortly after giving birth to her daughter. In the 101st loop, Fuuko teaches her Astral Projection, which sends her power away with her soul so her body can get some sleep, which greatly mitigates the effects.
  • Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon: Due to an encounter with the Dream Butterfly, Setsuna is unable to fall asleep or dream. There don't seem to be many side-effects from this however.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
    • Judge Dredd: Judges use devices called "sleep machines" which provide the mental and physical refreshment of a full night's sleep in about half an hour, allowing them to operate around the clock. The Justice Department eventually became worried that never actually sleeping might be a factor in why so many Judges go crazy and started mandating at least one night of real sleep per week.
    • Lobster Random: Lobster hasn't slept since he and his squad were modified to not need it so as not to dream or have a subconscious, making them immune to Skeaxxian mindspheres. He openly admits that it's had a detrimental effect on his psyche, but doesn't seem to care.
  • The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius: During a rant about his Blessed with Suck status as a ten-year-old super-genius, Barry mentions that because his brain is always running at full tilt, he doesn't sleep, and in fact has never been able to. He's clearly found some off-screen way of keeping his body running without it, but he makes it clear that it's hell for him.
  • The DCU:
    • Batman: The same unspecified Tibetan masters who taught Batman how to meditate, astral project, and resist mind control also taught him how to replace a full night's sleep with half an hour of meditation. This allows him to maintain his playboy lifestyle and crime-fighting activities. The only time we really see him sleep is when he's been severely injured.
    • Superman: In an interesting twist, Kryptonian bodies don't need to sleep — yellow sunlight gives them as much energy as they need, as well as quick cellular regeneration and healing — but their minds have to. Their mental health deteriorates if they don't sleep and dream. In Superman Volume 1 #365, a villain prevents Supergirl from sleeping, and dream deprivation makes Kara move quickly from irrational to insane. In Superman Family #200, sleep deprivation makes Supergirl cranky and irritable.
    • Wonder Woman: Amazons don't need to sleep while they're on Paradise Island/Themyscira, though they certainly prefer to and feel better if they do. This comes in handy in Wonder Woman (1987) when Circe displaces the whole island into a hellish dimension and they need to fight for their survival against the demonic natives. In Wonder Woman (1942), Diana is annoyed with how lazy she feels like she's become while living in D.C. since she's not only sleeping, she also occasionally sleeps in a bit.
  • In ElfQuest, neither Savah nor Winnowill require sleep.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Doctor Strange: Nightmare is terrified of the Gulgol because it never sleeps and thus never dreams, making it immune to Nightmare's powers.
    • Sleepwalker: The Sleepwalkers are a race of aliens who inhabit the Mindscape and are tasked with protecting the minds of sleeping humans from demons and nightmares. They never sleep, and as a side effect of this, they're immune to anything that would put another race to sleep — sleeping gas, songs that induce hypnotic trances, et cetera.
    • X-Men: Sebastian Shaw, Black King of the Hellfire Club, has the power to absorb energy from whatever strikes him to increase his strength. As a side effect, when he is powered up, he doesn't have to sleep until the energy is used up.
  • In a Richie Rich story, Mr. Rich's researchers develop an experimental drug to boost productivity by eliminating the need for sleep. However, after a few days on the drug, the normally gentle Mr. Rich becomes paranoid and abusive, locking Richie in his room after he urges his father to stop taking it. After managing to stun-gun him and his guards, Richie wakes up to discover his father napping at his desk after having destroyed the drug and its formula.
  • Sleepless has the titular Sleepless Knights, who take vows that relieve them of the need to sleep so they can better guard their charges. However, the effects eventually catch up to them, years later.
  • Malus Darkblade, a dark elf Villain Protagonist of one Warhammer comic series, cannot afford to fall asleep due to being a demonhost (if he loses consciousness, the demon will take his body for a ride). He solves the problem by keeping himself constantly awake through magical means but isn't above drinking a sleep potion if he is facing serious odds.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: In one strip, Dilbert tries to impress a potential employer at a job interview by claiming that he's such a workaholic, he makes himself ill by never pausing to eat or sleep for days at a time. They reject his job application because he "wasn't hungry enough".

  • Child of the Storm has a lesser physical requirement for sleep as a standard for anyone with an enhanced/superhuman physique (though the mental side is still required).
    • Harry comfortably gets by on about four hours of sleep by the sequels, and can go without entirely for a day or two without any ill-effects. However, if he does exert himself sufficiently, or is just very relaxed, he will conk out completely just as you'd expect a teenager to.
    • Phoenix hosts, meanwhile, don't actually need to sleep at all - though it is generally advisable for the mental reasons.
  • Zig-zagged in Bird, Taylor's power eliminates her need to sleep, and as such spends her nights studying. But she still needs rest and if she doesn't take the time to lay down and let her body unwind, physical fatigue can catch up on her.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: The artificial, magically powered ice golems, don't need to sleep, and neither does Ami, when she's possessing one.
  • The Horned King is this in Hope for the Heartless, probably due to being a lich and because "there is no rest for the wicked". He falls asleep for the first time in a millennium when he's in Avalina's garden for the first time.
  • One of Paul's many problems in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World is that he only needs to sleep once a week or so. It wasn't a problem in With Strings Attached because he could roam around the mostly deserted city or countryside practicing with his strength, but it's a huge problem in Keys because he doesn't dare go roaming for a number of reasons. To avoid going nuts with boredom, he learns how to make himself high on the “background noise” of his magic and spends hours in a happy trance.
  • The Night Unfurls: Thanks to the eldritch blood flowing in his veins, Kyril has no need for sleep. Since sleep never does anything for him, he would work all day instead.
  • In A Piece of Rebellion, Good Cop/Bad Cop doesn't need to sleep at all due to their condition. As a Deconstructive touch, this probably has a lot to do with Good Cop's regular panic attacks; without sleep, he's never really able to recharge and escape the stress of their job.
  • The titular badger from The Urthblood Saga, a Redwall fic.
  • After Paul gets empowered in With Strings Attached, he no longer needs to sleep when he's at high power, and barely needs any at low power. He takes full advantage of his condition to practice with his overwhelming strength until he can sort of function with it.
  • In Sympathy for the Devil, the Chosen are said to not need sleep to functionnote . The Hunter goes even further in that he can't sleep even if he tries to.
  • In Legacy (Sekiro/Kimetsu no Yaiba), Emma and Dogen's Elixir of Life has rendered food, drink, and sleep optional for Wolf.
  • In Everqueen, Isha, of course, doesn't need to sleep, but after her experiences, she is afraid to as well.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: ZigZag is implied to be this. In the Recobbled Cut, he mocks the kingdom for sleeping during the night, and brags that he is wide awake, indicating that it gives him an edge over them.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Slaves of the Abyss have an item called Sige's Pomander, a pouch of magic herbs you can wear on your neck, which can keep the wearer awake 24/7. It saves you quite some travelling time as well as a possible nighttime encounter with some hostile elves who wants to rob you while you're asleep.

  • One Babylon 5 novel, "Clark's Law", featured the Tuchanq, a sentient race whose brains were not wired for sleep. They have a longstanding enmity with the Narns, and thus, upon their arrival on the station, a riot breaks out, and the security forces respond by stunning them. The Tuchanq don't respond well to this...
  • Beggars in Spain involves genetically upgraded humans called the Sleepless (of the "cannot-sleep" variety), and the repercussions of these Born Winners on society. X-Men meets genepunk.
  • Beware of Chicken: Cultivators usually do sleep like normal humans, but by using qi, they don't have to. Jin tests it out, gets to five days straight with no apparent side effects, and decides to end the experiment there.
  • One of the genetically-modified human types in Black Man are hybernoids — they sleep through winter, but are hyperactive the rest of the year, requiring little or no rest. They were created for space missions so an astronaut could save resources and avoid psychological problems by sleeping most of the trip.
  • Evan Tanner, from a series of novels by Lawrence Block, suffered a shrapnel wound in the Korean War that removed both his ability to sleep and the need to do so.
  • The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To.
  • One of the stories in Changing Planes concerns a world where, out of fears of impending war, a nation genetically engineered a group of children to no longer require sleep by early childhood. (They still slept in infancy, after the first test revealed that sleep was necessary for newborns to survive.) Their hope was that this would create geniuses; unfortunately, it turned out that sleep was a key component of sentience - the children couldn't even pass the "mirror test", and ended up being no more sentient than some lesser primates. (One of the "failed" subjects, a girl who slept about a fourth as much as an ordinary human, was effectively autistic. This was the best they got.) All of their descendants are still sleepless after infancy, and are sequestered to an island, where they are studied rather like Goodall's chimps.
  • A short story by Larry Sternig, "The Clutch of Morpheus" centers around a man who never needs to sleep. Then the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, which causes everyone else on the planet to fall asleep, forcing him to try and help find a solution. He succeeds, but the counter-field, broadcast via radio stations, causes him to fall asleep for the first time in his life..
  • Consider Phlebas. A space pirate captain called Kraiklyn had the ability to sleep one hemisphere at the time, so no-one could sneak up on him in his sleep. However his personality changed as he was using the right or left side of his brain, so in times of crisis he'd use his full faculties (not that this always made him smarter).
  • The Cosmere:
    • Mistborn: People with Feruchemical bronze can store wakefulness in a metalmind. They're sleepier when they're storing it, and become more alert when they're tapping it. Since bronze is the only attribute that can be stored while sleeping, this means that they have complete control over their sleep schedule; there's a reason ferrings with this ability are formally called "Sentries." And then there are bronze Compounders, people who can both Feruchemically store and Allomantically burn bronze. Due to a quirk of the magic system, Compounders can break the Equivalent Exchange, tapping more power than they put in and creating an infinite loop, meaning that they never have to sleep. Ever.
    • The Stormlight Archive: In Edgedancer, Lift meets a Dysian Aimian who refers to his species as "the Sleepless". Considering that Dysians are hordes of thousands of cremlings, it seems logical that they would never need to sleep—or at least not all of them at once. However, Aimians consist of a second, very different species called the Siah, so it's unclear if "the Sleepless" is just the name for the Dysians, or all Aimians.
    • Also from Stormlight, spren, as Pure Magic Beings, don't need to sleep. Rhythm of War does establish that they do have periods of rest in which they are less active, even if they don't sleep the way humans do.
  • Discworld:
    • Lord Vetinari probably sleeps sometime, but no one ever catches him at it. No matter what time you come by his office, he'll be working in there. This is part of why many characters believe him to be a vampire. He is seen sleeping when under arrest in The Truth when he is safe inside a Watchhouse.
    • During his sojourn as Bill Door in Reaper Man, Death quite looks forward to observing what "sleep" is like, having never had the need or inclination to achieve such a state before. When he wakes up and realizes that a whole chunk of his time has passed without his actually being aware of it, he's quite distressed.
  • Harry of The Dresden Files usually sleeps like any normal person would. However, during the books of the series he is usually on a very short deadline to save the city/world from some impending supernatural doom. This typically results in Harry spending (or trying to spend) two or three days in a non-stop blend of combat, investigation and fleeing. Predictably, this results in one very tired wizard trying to save the world. In addition, after the fourth book, he starts to get increasingly pissed off when people point out that he looks like he could use some sleep. He knows. It also explains his constant pursuit of coffee, Coke, and high-sugar snacks. He has a small Healing Factor, so after the dust settles, he can take a few days and heal up from whatever side effects his famed showdowns have caused him.
  • The Golem and the Jinni: The title characters don't sleep due to being, respectively, a construct of clay and an incarnate spirit of fire. As the only supernatural beings in New York City, they find nights frustratingly dull, and meet each other for the first time on their nighttime walks.
  • In Left Behind, after his death and "resurrection" by Satan indwelling him, The Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia becomes this for the remaining period of the Tribulation, never needing rest as his body is in a constant state of regenerative activity. It is only for the brief period that Satan leaves Nicolae's body (and also when Jesus commands Satan to leave him) that he shows that his true form is that of a decaying animated corpse being kept alive for the purpose for fulfilling the role as the Antichrist.
  • The narrator of Fredric Brown's Letter To A Phoenix had some rare endocrine disorder and then got irradiated during a nuclear war. Now he stays awake about 30 years, then sleeps about 15 years in some hidden shelter and then emerges with a new identity. Thus he ages 1 day per 45 years. To avoid suspicions he pretends to sleep several hours every day.
  • Martín Fierro: This is a Narrative Poem about Martin Fierro, a Gaucho who is Press-Ganged into Conscription trying to Settling the Frontier. At song III, he describes the Indians as Badass Natives like ants that are awake day and night.
  • A woman from a Haruki Murakami short story finds one day that she doesn't need to sleep and has more energy. She spends her "sleep" hours reading and drinking expensive liquor.
  • Number Two in The Mysterious Benedict Society hardly sleeps (in order to watch the narcoleptic Benedict and take care of other odds and ends), though she consumes food regularly to keep her going. It's mentioned that she does sleep, but only for very brief periods, a clarification that is made after it's quipped that Mr. Benedict can't stop falling asleep (he has narcolepsy) and she never sleeps. In the second installment of the series, she is left quite delirious after not revealing her additional food needs to the Big Bad Mr. Curtain after he captures her and Mr. Benedict (and thus not revealing the reason why) in order to trick them by working feverishly to escape while they were sleeping.
  • The One Who Eats Monsters: Ryn only sleeps one day a month on the day of the new moon, during which she sleeps the whole day and night.
  • Rose Thorburn, in Pact, has this as one of the reasons she considers herself Ambiguously Human — in addition to the fact that she doesn't breathe and lacks a heartbeat, and exists only in reflections. She puts it to use by catching up on her reading while she'd normally have to sleep.
  • The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds features a woman named Jane, who had the misfortune of falling prey to one of the villain's booby traps: a mechanical scarab attached to her neck that will kill her if she falls asleep (it will also explode if anyone comes near her, thus preventing attempts at removing it). She’s been forced to use powerful drugs to keep herself awake, which by the time the novel starts has been for eleven years straight.
  • Nova from Renegades haven't needed to sleep - nor been able to - since her family was murdered when she was six years old. She does become capable of sleeping if sufficiently relaxed after a brush with a Power Parasite, though she figures this out by sleeping for almost an entire day, and finds it extremely disorienting.
  • In Charlie Huston's SF/noir novel Sleepless, insomnia is an infectious disease affecting about a tenth of the population; the sleepless die painfully after about a year as their body slowly degrades.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Melisandre is troubled by bad dreams, sleeps about one hour a night, and hopes for the day her god R'hllor will remove the need for sleep from her entirely. She's able to function fine on this amount of sleep and also doesn't need to eat at all, so it's a reasonable hope. Tyrion notes that his mercenary companion Bronn never seems to sleep either, although he's otherwise an apparently normal man.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • After Palpatine/Darth Sidious killed his Master, Darth Plagueis, in his sleep, he became paranoid that the same thing would happen to him. Palpatine vowed to never repeat his Master's mistake, and never slept again, presumably relying on The Dark Side to sustain himself. Plagueis himself had cultivated the skill after an unrelated assassination attempt a decade before; Palpatine had to get him so drunk he passed out to actually kill him in his sleep.
    • Darth Bane: Path of Destruction states that after Bane started learning and training at the Sith Academy, he found that he needed almost no sleep and instead relied on just an hour or two of daily meditation to keep his body energized and his mind invigorated. After wandering the wastelands of Korriban for two weeks, he did need to sleep, but only for a few hours.
  • One of the short stories in Arthur C. Clarke's Tales from the White Hart is about a man who loses the need for sleep.
  • Vampires in Twilight can't sleep. Nor do they ever get tired. And apparently Emmett and Rosalie were Insatiable Newlyweds...
  • Decapitated Dan from Too Many Curses reminisces about how, when he was still alive, he used to spend the whole night in a chair gazing at the moon rather than sleeping.
  • In The Outside, angels only sleep when sick or injured. Under normal circumstances, the technology in their brains does all the work that sleep does for mortals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Gilmore Girls, Rory and Lorelei speculate about Paris Geller's sleeping habits. They conclude that she must just whirr and shut down like a computer, due to her extreme type-A personality.
  • In 30 Rock Kenneth refers to a bedroom as the place you "wait patiently for the next day to start-I mean sleep".
  • In the Angel episode "Life of the Party", Lorne temporarily had his need for sleep removed. It didn't go well.
  • Cavil from Battlestar Galactica has engineered away his need for sleep. His mother implies it had more to do with the fact that he suffered horrible nightmares about blank-headed dogs chasing him through the fog.
  • Lalo Salamanca of Better Call Saul mentions he usually only sleeps for one or two hours at the most. Despite this, he doesn't seem to suffer any of the usual negative consequences, so it only serves to underscore there being something inherently off about him. It also makes things difficult for Nacho, as Lalo is still awake in the early morning hours when the assassination squad Nacho is supposed to sneak in the house arrives at the door.
  • CSI likes this. Both Grissom in the original and Mac in CSI: NY are prone to it. They're both workaholics, plus Mac is an insomniac and likely dreads the loneliness of his empty apartment after having lost Claire on 9/11.
    Brass: What do you do after work?
    Grissom: More work.

    Stella: When's the last time you got some sleep?
    Mac: What's sleep?

    In a later episode:
    Stella: What do you do when you can't sleep?
    Mac: Work.
    Stella: No, what do *normal people* do when they can't sleep?

    In yet a later one, Stella walks into Mac's office carrying a box and catches him yawning.
    Stella: If I told you to go home and get some sleep, you'd say...?
    Mac: What's in the box?
    Stella: Of course you would.
  • In Daredevil (2015), one of the things that drove Matt Murdock to become a vigilante was insomnia brought on by his inability to tune out the rest of city.
  • Max of Dark Angel at least claimed she didn't need to sleep. She did seem to be awake at all hours, but it was never really verified.
    • In the second season, one of Manticore's former PsychOps uses poorly-explained neurological powers to make Max forget the last few minutes and be as tired as possible, to get her out of the way. The next day, Max complains that she slept for four hours, and thinks she is getting sick.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Night and the Doctor", a series of mini-episodes, implies that the Doctor doesn't need to sleep. While his companions are resting, he's off having more adventures.
    • In "Deep Breath" he seems to have a hard time even comprehending the idea of sleep, although this is while he's in the grips of regeneration sickness.
    • In "Sleep No More", Clara asks him when he sleeps, as she's never seen him do so, and he answers, "When you're not looking." The episode itself concerns a new technology that eliminates the need for humans to sleep.
    • In "Knock Knock", the Doctor claims that he only needs to sleep after he regenerates (the main on-screen example of the Doctor sleeping is "Castrovalva"), and that sleeping in general is unnecessary for Time Lords.
    • Goes back to the original series. In "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", the Doctor has been working all night when Litefoot arises. When he expresses surprise at this, the Doctor dismissively remarks, "Sleep is for tortoises."
      • This remark was picked up and repeated in other Doctor Who media, including the novels The Scales of Injustice, Timewyrm: Exodus, The Last Dodo, and Deadly Reunion and the audios The Mists of Time, Red, and Other Lives, as well as getting a Call-Back in "Knock Knock".
      • In the context of "Talons", the Doctor's remark is a deliberate reference to his in-episode Sherlock-esque behavior, a supposition reinforced by Sherlock saying the same thing to Watson in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel All-Consuming Fire.
  • In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Detective Chester Lake has chronic insomnia, which may have been a factor in his career-ending murder of another police officer.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has a murder suspect with "fatal familial insomnia."
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In the pilot episode, Galadriel warns Elrond that evil does not sleep, it awaits. Fast forward to episode 6, where Halbrand is shown being awake in the middle of the night, watching Isildur leaving the shack to go outside and see the sunrise.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Hitler is a guest at a boarding house incognito (and in full Nazi regalia) as Mr. Hilter — the hostess explains that his short temper is due to not sleeping since 1945.
  • One odd subversion is the Machine Empire, the bad guys in Power Rangers Zeo. They do sleep, despite being robots. (In fact, in the episode where that was confirmed, when Machina tried to tell Mondo that the Monster of the Week had been beaten, he didn't hear her; he was asleep.)
  • Steel from Sapphire and Steel claims he doesn't sleep in "Assignment 2", and is rather disturbed when he wakes up and realizes that the supernatural force he and Sapphire are trying to fight was able to make him sleep.
  • An SCTV sketch has normally relaxed, affable fishing-show host Gil Fisher (John Candy) driving his musical guests to a fishing spot for four days nonstop, living on coffee and cigarettes. At a roadhouse stop, he's wired and dazed, picks a fight with a little guy, and gets his butt kicked - and has to watch it all on the film made for the show.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • The genetically engineered Tosk race, the better to provide the perfect quarry.
      • The genetically engineered Jem'Hadar, the better to fight for the Dominion.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • Android Data, before his dream-program kicked in.
      • Q is an alien being, a trickster whose abilities seem god-like to humans, and apparently, Q's species never sleep. When Q temporarily became a man (he chose this lifeform when he was expelled from his species as a punishment), he was deeply troubled by sleeping. He did not understand what a weird state it was and described it in terms similar to death.
      • Season 4 episode "Night Terrors" used a variant; it wasn't sleep per se that the Enterprise crew and a ship full of Red Shirts were deprived of, but REM sleep, meaning they were unable to dream. Cognitive impairment, hallucinations and eventually insanity followed.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise:
      • Denobulans like Phlox can go without sleep for a full year between hibernation cycles. When they are hibernating, however, they don't wake up for six days unless drugged back to awareness.
  • The Jaffa from Stargate SG-1 do not need sleep due to their symbiotes. They do, however, need to perform a deep meditation called Kelno'reem so that their symbiotes can properly heal their bodies.
  • Supernatural:
    • In the first half of season six, Sam no longer sleeps due to his lack of a soul. It doesn't seem to have had any particular effect on him: his behaviour has changed, but it's attributed to the soullessness rather than the permanent wakefulness.
    • In Season 7, Sam is unable to sleep because of constant hallucinations of Lucifer. This time, however, he almost crashes his car and later ends up in the hospital because of it, which conveniently places him for the case of the week.
    • Castiel also mentions in 8.08 that he (and presumably all other angels) doesn't need sleep, although they can lapse into unconsciousness if dealt a severe enough injury, which seems to help them recover. Castiel does actually (semi-purposely) sleep several times in season 10, due to his stolen Grace burning out, making him ill and frequently exhausted, but he says that he doesn't dream.
  • Cameron "I never sleep" Philips of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Jack Harkness of Torchwood.
  • Cole and other Cirronians on Tracker don't need sleep, possibly due to being Energy Beings.
  • In the second season of Tyrant (2014), Jamal stops sleeping due to his ever-worsening paranoia, depression, and guilt, which only makes those problems worse and causes him to make increasingly bad decisions.
  • The X-Files
    • In "Sleepless", the Villain of the Week is a Vietnam War veteran who was subject to a government experiment to remove his need to sleep. Side Effects Include... the exhaustion of sleeplessness and evolving the ability to make others experience reality-warping hallucinations.
    • The Super Soldiers from season 6 or 7 can't sleep, as it would have been a weakness.

    Multiple Media 
  • BIONICLE: since their evolution into gaseous Antidermis, the Makuta do not have to eat or sleep, among other things.
  • Margarita Blankenheim from the Evillious Chronicles was born with a rare condition that is actually referred to as "Sleepless". She has never been able to sleep in her life and she didn't need it either, being incapable of succumbing to fatigue or exhaustion. Except not really—Margarita is actually a living doll and the real reason she can't sleep is because dolls are incapable of sleep.



    Tabletop Games 
  • Oathsworn from Arcana Evolved eventually no longer need to sleep.
  • In Blood Bowl, the Goblin Star Player, and former apprentice to the inventor of the pogo stick, Scrappa Sorehead hasn’t slept a wink in over three years due to an addiction to Madcap Mushrooms. Scrappa himself is perfectly fine with this situation as his obsession with his pogo stick is such that he refuses to get down from the device for even a moment’s rest.
  • Changeling: The Lost: Jack of the Lantern has as one of his Frailties that he can only rest when invited to do so by someone of higher station. He's figured out that Exact Words apply, and as such has refused to join any Court - that way, anyone who belongs to a Court is technically of "higher station" and have the authority to let him sleep. If he doesn't get an invitation, he can't even take a nap (though he doesn't need to be constantly moving, just conscious).
  • The Chronicles of Darkness book Inferno has an item you can get from a Deal with the Devil called the Restless Pendant. While you wear it, you cannot sleep. The problem is that you still feel the need to sleep - after a while, it maintains you in a constant state of "runner's high", exhausted but still awake. Turns out this item is a bit of a trap - once you put it on, taking it off requires another Deal with the Devil.
  • Part of the premise of Don't Rest Your Head. People who have gone too long without sleep, for whatever reason, gradually start to become aware of the Mad City, a Dark World version of reality that lies hidden behind normally invisible doors and windows. Once they've "awakened" to its existence, such people can never risk falling asleep again, or the Nightmares that roam the Mad City will come for them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Elves have long held a resistance, if not outright immunity, to magically-induced sleep effects, and starting in 3rd Edition picked up the ability to "trance:" instead of falling unconscious, an elf can spend four hours meditating and doing mental exercises, which gives them the benefits of eight hours of rest. The 5th Edition sourcebook Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes elaborates that elves can sleep, but they normally choose not to. When a young elf trances, he or she experiences Past-Life Memories of their primal soul's time in Arvandor, and is considered to have entered adulthood when they begin having memories from their current life. After this point, an elf learns how to control which memories are experienced during a trance, and choose those that complement their current activity or give them solace during a difficult time. Older elves will start to experience memories of their other lives in the mortal realm when they trance. All of this means that elves find dreams to be disorienting and alarming things, since they are the uncontrolled products of their subconscious mind rather than echoes of past events. Drow are an exception to this - they experience nothing but darkness and silence when they trance, suggesting that their souls do not reincarnate, and scrutinize dreams for omens from Lolth or their other dark gods.
    • In the Eberron setting, the Warforged do not sleep at all because they are Mechanical Lifeforms.
    • The Tattooed Monks get to choose from a variety of Power Tattooes, one of which, The Ocean, keeps them from needing sleep, food, or drink. They still can do those things if the choose to, but they never need to.
    • Thri-kreen cannot sleep naturally, and are immune to most sleep-inducing magic and psionics (though in some editions they can be put to sleep with magic, which is a traumatic experience for them). They refer to humans and other races that need to sleep with the name drajna/drasna, meaning "those who sleeps", and find it very difficult to relate to their bad habit of "lazily lying on the ground". Thri-kreen can get exhausted and may need to rest their bodies, but their minds do not naturally ever fall asleep. In the original Dark Sun setting, elves (natural food/enemies of thri-kreen) also don't need to sleep.
    • Elan (no, not that one) are a race of psychic humans who can spend a small amount of psychic energy to support their body without the need for food sleep or drink.
    • Similar to the monks mentioned above, 5E sorcerers with the Sea sorcery origin no longer need to eat drink or sleep when they reach 18th level.
    • This effect can be achieved through a certain Game-Breaker multiclass exploit. By combining Sorcerer and Warlock levels, you can use Pact Magic to turn Warlock spell slots into Sorcerer Metamagic points, and then convert those points into spell slots for Sorcerer spells. The trick here is that Warlocks recuperate their spell slots on short rests (the party basically taking a twenty-minute break) while Sorcerer spell slots only recuperate on a long rest (the full eight-hour sleep). By taking Divine Soul Sorcerer or Celestial Pact Warlock, access to healing spells make needing long rests a thing of the past.
  • Exalted has several charms which allow a character to go without sleep, but the one that fits this trope is Nightmare Fugue Vigilance, an Infernal charm which makes it so they never need to sleep again, but gives them nightmares when they do.
  • In Steve Jackson Games In Nomine, the vessels used by celestials (angels and demons) don't require sleep, although they can go to sleep if they want to travel the Marches. Undead also don't need sleep and unlike celestials, CAN'T sleep.
  • Warhammer: Archaon, the Chosen One of Chaos does not sleep. Or eat. Or do anything but work towards the apocalypse.
  • Warhammer 40,000's Adeptus Astartes are implanted with a node affecting the circadian rhythm of their sleep cycle. When deprived of real sleep, it provides a substitute by switching off areas of his brain sequentially. Normally Astartes require only four hours of full sleep, but are known for going up to two weeks straight without it.

    Video Games 
  • In Beholder the Orwellian Ministry injects the protagonist with a sleep-suppressing serum so he can monitor the tenants of his building 24/7. A secret ending reveals that the injection actually put him in a coma and he dreamed the rest of the game.
  • In Brigador, FTL travel is really, really hard and really, really dangerous. Computers simply can't handle it due to the sheer amount of processing power required, so the only option was to have a person with some Wetware CPU and copious amount of drugs injected into them to handle FTL navigation. Problem is, the need for pilots to sleep was really cutting down on efficiency. Pilots were expected to fly the ships for days or weeks with no rest, and a lack of sleep meant a lapse in awareness, greatly increasing the risk of a fatal crash. It was too expensive to make multiple short jumps, and so was using multiple pilots for one ship daisy-chain them to the same system to change shifts instantaneously. It seemed the best solution to this was to eliminate the need for sleep altogether. Enter the Cyclolucidites, a breed of genetically modified humans whose brains are in a perpetual state of REM sleep but still have access to all their senses. They're essentially permanent but functional sleepwalkers, making them the perfect FTL pilots. Since they have no biological need to get some shut-eye, they don't have eyes.
  • Danny, the player character in Crush, agrees to be an experimental subject for the C.R.U.S.H. technology to try and cure his insomnia.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Daggerfall, Morrowind, and Oblivion, resting is required in order to level up, but there is no physiological need for your character to do so. Even when resting to level up, you can do so by sleeping the bare minimum amount each time. Numerous Game Mods exist for each game in the series which address this, making it a requirement for the the player to sleep periodically or face severe penalties.
    • In Oblivion, the horrifically flawed Level Scaling system makes doing a Low-Level Run advantageous, so many players actively Invoke this trope by avoiding sleep in order to not gain levels. This leads to a situation where Cyrodiil is saved from hordes of very weak monsters by a strangely competent chronic insomniac.
    • Skyrim separates leveling up from resting, meaning there is never a need to rest. That said, resting in a bed you own or have rented will grant you the "Well Rested" bonus, which increases the rate at which your skills increase by 10% for eight in-game hours. If you are married, sleeping in a bed near your spouse will grant you the "Lover's Comfort" bonus, which is a 15% increase. However, if you are a werewolf, you cannot gain these bonuses, giving the player no reason not to go entirely without sleep.
  • In Fallout 3 you don't technically need to sleep, but doing so has several bonuses, such as healing you and giving you a 10% bonus to XP gains. In Fallout: New Vegas hardcore mode not sleeping will give you penalties to endurance , intelligence and agility. Two weeks without sleep can kill you.
  • In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, Tangent's mutation is that she hardly ever needs to sleep, and even then only for a few minutes. However, that does not mean her health won't be adversely affected in the long run if she keeps it up because in exchange, she has to eat more because she burns more calories while awake, and she can eventually burn out in the ending because of this.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Justified in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, where the entire game consists of a three-day time loop. A long time to stay awake, but not inconceivable when the world is at stake. Also, it's one of the few games where you can take a nap if you want - by listening to an exceptionally boring story.
    • And in Majora's Mask, there's a mask that makes you unable to sleep, allowing you to earn a heart container by staying awake. And apparently, that mask was originally a torture device.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Link does sort of sleep for seven full years in the Chamber of Sages.
    • Averted in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, in which sleeping is the only way to change day into night and vice versa.
  • Kaidan Alenko starts having trouble sleeping in Mass Effect 3:
    Kaidan: You know what, though? I feel good about our chances. Helps me sleep better at night.
    Shepard: You not sleeping, Kaidan?
    Kaidan: Maybe a little restless...
  • Moshi Monsters: It is unknown if Warrior Wombats (an animal in the Moshi Monsters universe) need sleep or not, the reason being that their eyes appear to be always open but aren't their real eyes.
  • Some Pokémon have abilities that prevent them from falling asleep, namely Vital Spirit and Insomnia, either from enemy attacks or from their own moves like the recovery Rest.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: Unlike the other gang members who have all programmed 'go to sleep/wake-up' times, Micah Bell is always awake. Arthur Morgan even points it out. That said, there are times where he does sleep, albeit occasionally. At times he can be found sleeping while sitting with his feet on the table and strangely enough, he does this at daytime. The only time he sleeps at night is when he gets drunk with Javier Escuella and he sleeps with his head on the table.
  • In The Sims Medieval, Wizards may either choose to sleep or meditate, which is why their homes don't originally contain a bed.
    • The aliens introduced in The Sims 3: Seasons do not need sleep and instead have a "Brain Power" need, which they can restore by going into a trance-like state.
    • In The Sims 4: Vampires, sleep is optional for vampires, who can recharge their powers through Dark Meditation. A reward trait for non-vampires, "Never Weary", effectively freezes a Sim's Sleep need so they can stay up all night.
  • The Tireless Mechanic in Sunless Sea, who pretty much gave up sleep to avoid the dream-snakes. An early event in his arc features him setting a trap for one so he can have a night of decent sleep at last.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, losing the ability to sleep is the second step in Colette's angel transformation, and thus an early warning sign of how much suffering it causes. Supplementary material translated by fans says that the Seraphim are the same way.
  • According to side material, complete magicians in Touhou Project no longer need to sleep. They still can, they just don't need to.
  • This is what The Robot is aiming for in Dicey Dungeons. So far as they're concerned, getting a full eight hours is just such a waste of time...!
  • In Minecraft:, player characters can stay awake as long as they wish. Sleeping only skips the night and prevents the spawning of Phantoms, who begin to appear and attack the player after three days without sleeping. With the exception of a few such as villagers, cats, and foxes, most mobs will never sleep either.
  • At the end of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, Joachim Guenter reveals to the Special Support Section that thanks to the effects of the drug Gnosis, he hasn't slept in years. It's how he's managed to work full time as the head of a research division at St. Ursula Hospital while also managing an international cult.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate Series: As long as a Servant has a steady supply of Mana, they don't have to sleep. However, in Fate/stay night, Shirou Emiya gives Saber a poor supply of Mana, so she has to sleep.

  • BACK: Abigail doesn't sleep, on account of her being The Undead. Unfortunately the Southern Witches neglected to tell her about sleep (along with many other things), and so the first time Daniel goes to sleep in front of her, Abigail think that he's just stopped talking to her. For several hours.
  • Cucumber Quest: The Nightmare Knight, the near-invincible entity that has been trying to destroy the world since time immemorial, does not need to sleep. He normally spends his nights baking cookies in the castle kitchen. Yes, really.
    Peridot: When we summoned you, this wasn't reeeeally what we pictured.
    Nightmare Knight: I'm aware.
  • Zeetha of Girl Genius knows Skifandrian mental exercises that let her go for days without sleep, no problem. They're hardly ever taught to outsiders. Oh, and the Baron knows them (and taught his son).
  • Zimmy of Gunnerkrigg Court cannot sleep, though it's the least of her problems. Her best friend does not have this ability, but she tries to stay up with Zimmy anyway. There's a reason she walks around like a zombie.
  • In Homestuck, sleep is still required to some extent but not as much as normal because players have dreamselves that wake up whenever they sleep. Karkat went almost a full month without sleeping once.
    • Not coincidentally, one of Karkat's defining features is the pair of enormous bags under his eyes.
    • Not only does Dirk truly never sleep, but neither does his dream self. This seems to cause mental but not physical strain.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Neither devils nor angels need to sleep. After a time skip, Allison ends up in a small apartment with two devils and an angel; she and Nyave, the only two humans, are given the bedrooms since they're the ones who actually need them.
  • Canadian Guy from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things doesn't sleep. Instead, he sits in a rowboat in the middle of a lake with a lantern and a buttonbox concertina and an empty stare. It is unclear whether this is an actual sleep substitute, a hobby done while everyone else is sleeping, or some arcane man-ritual.
  • Moby Dick: Back From The Deep: In chapter 4, Ishmael tells Katherine that since the Pequod's crew are all undead, they don't really need to sleep. As such, the ship's sleeping quarters have gone unused for some time.
  • November's inability to sleep is a driving plot point in No Rest for the Wicked.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Xykon mentions that, as an undead, he cannot sleep. This, plus the fact that he can only craft magical items a certain number of hours per day, is part of why he's always so bored.
  • In this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic, an alien tells a human that most advanced races figure out how to become The Sleepless since one's consciousness effectively dies during sleep and is replaced with another one upon waking up. This leads the human to desperately try to stay awake as long as possible. The votee button shows the alien peacefully sleeping, revealing it was just playing a cruel prank on her.
  • Tina of Wapsi Square does not sleep, being a collection of demons occupying an empty shell of a body. However, she often does put her body into a "standby mode" at night, though this is mostly so she can feel a little bit more human.
  • The gods in Aurora (2019) have no need for sleep. Kendal, who was created from the empty body of the god Vash, assumes this means he doesn't have to sleep either, but he later collapses in chapter 11 out of sleep deprivation, having gone 11 days without rest. Erin has to talk him through the process of going to sleep for the first time.
  • The Last Days of Foxhound: Sniper Wolf takes a relaxant drug to help with her sniping; the effects keep her body relaxed enough that she doesn't need to sleep... or rather, her body doesn't. It's later pointed out that her mind still needs rest, and the drugs can't counter that completely; every few years, she goes on a hallucinatory bender that ends with her passing out.
    Liquid: When she sleeps, she fuckin' sleeps.

    Web Original 
  • In the Quest Den adventure Catalyst, Andrea's superpower is that she doesn't need sleep and has infinite stamina. Unfortunately it also makes her unable to sleep, so she gets pretty bored while everyone she knows is sleeping.
  • There are a couple character in Worm known as "Noctis Capes" - superpowered individuals who can operate on little to no sleep.
    • Miss Militia technically does not sleep, but instead "dreams" past experiences in perfect detail whenever she closes her eyes.
    • After augmenting himself with cybernetics, Defiant only needs fifteen minutes of sleep per day.
    • Characters like Weld and Dragon have atypical physiologies.
  • Orion's Arm refers to these as Asomniacs. Very common among AI and robots, but biological people can be modified to not need sleep as well.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In "Mother of Olms", Mother Olm when trying to describe the Core calls it "an unnatural thing that does not sleep and will not die". That being said, it did appear to be "resting" before Andrias spoke to it during its first appearance at the end of "The First Temple".
  • In the episode "Nightmares and Daydreams" of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang, stressed out by the prospect of his upcoming battle with the Fire Lord, is having terrible nightmares every time he tries to go to sleep and thus decides to stay awake for 3 days straight. In the process he becomes a nervous wreck and begins hallucinating like crazy.
  • In one episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy is sick of bedtime and wishes it out of existence; the inevitable "catch" is that people still get sleep-deprived.
  • On Gargoyles, Goliath no longer turns to stone (the equivalent of sleep) when he's using the Eye of Odin. Given that Fox was running around the city in werewolf-form all night when under its influence, it's possible the same is true for her and the Archmage.
  • Bill Cipher of Gravity Falls apparently doesn't need to sleep. In fact, he's so used to not sleeping that when he possesses Dipper's body, he ends up exhausting himself the point of collapsing after staying awake for days.
  • Topsy from King of the Hill claims to be the guy the Barenaked Ladies were singing about.
  • The Sandman from The Powerpuff Girls (1998) is tasked with putting people around the world to sleep, and can't go to sleep himself until he finishes the job — however, since there are always people needing to be put to sleep round the clock, he never gets any himself, and unlike most on this list he clearly wants to and needs it.
  • Gems in Steven Universe don't need to sleep or eat, though they still can if they so desire, as Amethyst is often shown doing. Steven is an exception, being the resident Half-Human Hybrid. In spite of this, sleep is shown as their fastest way to treat exhaustion in "Chille Tid".

    Real Life 
  • Fatal familial insomnia is an extremely rare genetic disorder which progressively destroys a person's ability to sleep and with it even simple things like short-term memory and maintaining proper orientation in your environment AKA balance. It also induces hallucinations. 7 or more months after its onset, sleep becomes totally impossible, with insanity and death following shortly after.
  • Are you in full International Baccalaureate classes? You will, eventually, become accustomed to borderline no sleep. Many other university programs also cause this plight upon their students. For the record, one IB class can average five hours per night (some get more, some less).
  • It is not quite sleeplessness, but humans can adapt to relatively small amounts of sleep. Long-distance solo boat racers will typically sleep only twenty minutes or so every few hours, totaling two or three hours a day, for months at a time. Paul Erdos, the mathematician, slept about the same amount for many years, although this may be attributed to amphetamine use. It's known by many as the Ubermensch sleep schedule, and what isn't mentioned is that it pretty much drives you insane. Anyone can do it but that doesn't mean they should. In fact, any extended level of insomnia or general lack of sleep will result in the following (not necessarily in this order): irritability, hunger, irrational anger, increase in violent response, hallucinations, insanity, and death. In other words, GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP.
  • As people age their daily activity levels decrease and their growth and recovery mechanisms slow down or stop. As a result, the amount of sleep required decreases as a person enters and progresses through senescence. The sufficiently old or infirm may appear to not sleep at all due to being sedentary when awake.
  • Thomas Edison only slept for about 15 minutes at a time. Since he worked with electricity, logic states that he should have electrocuted himself, but he didn't. It might have something to do with the fact that he worked exclusively with direct current, which is very difficult to electrocute yourself with, and fanatically opposed alternating current, supported by Nikola Tesla, which you can be electrocuted with, but makes more sense as a large-scale distribution mechanism.
  • People are now using drugs (notably Modafinil) to lower their need for sleep.
  • According to his trivia page on IMDB, H. P. Lovecraft could stay awake for insanely long periods of time, going as far as 60 hours at least - which might explain his night terrors and the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • One Vietnamese guy claims to not have slept since 1973.
    • Prior to his claim, there was Al Herpin, who claimed he'd never slept and would instead read the newspaper until Dawn.
      • The above two cases may be instances of Sleep state misperception, in which sleep occurs, but the afflicted believe they're still conscious and alert.
  • In 1983, Cliff Young, an Australian potato farmer, entered the 550-mile long Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon. He showed up at the start line in overalls and rain boots, and started the race using an unusual shuffling gait. Everyone was concerned for him, especially since he was 61 at the time. The first surprise came the following morning, when he was not only still in the race, but was still jogging. Young was then asked about his tactics for the rest of the race, and he told the media that he wouldn't sleep for the rest of the race. While his fellow competitors got in a few hours of sleep each night, Young kept jogging... and didn't sleep... and not only finished the race, but WON it, taking 5 days and a little more than 14 hours. Which was 10 hours ahead of the second-place finisher, and almost TWO FULL DAYS faster than any previous run between the two cities. It also turned out that his gait was actually extremely efficient for ultrarunning, and at least three later winners of that race used his style.
  • Have you ever tried to hitchhike far away in a hurry? When you absolutely have to arrive in some place at right time, and draw no lucky hitches? That's what you do: you cease stopping for a night, and if you're fortunate, get an hour or two of sleep during the day when your driver allows you that.
  • Many kinds of animals are adapted to live without true sleep, letting one side of their brains fall into a sleep-like state at a time. This is how whales and dolphins manage to rest their brains without ceasing to surface for air, and how prey species that rest out in the open instead of in nests or burrows keep alert for predators even while (half-)dozing.
  • Certain binaural beat or isochronic tone products claim that listening to them regularly can reduce the need for sleep by several hours. Results vary, of course.