A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Sleep deprivation is characterized as a very serious problem.
Positive Role Models
Scientists, medical professionals, safety professionals, and victims of fatigue-induced accidents offer their insights.
Violence & Scariness
Reenactments of people getting into arguments, discussions of fatigue-related fatalities, and video footage of people during car-accident impact (no blood). Scientific experiments are conducted on rats.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual dysfunction is briefly noted as a side effect of sleep deprivation.
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Products & Purchases
Clothing logos such as Under Armour are occasionally visible but not prominently featured.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The impact on sleep deprivation of alcohol, cigarettes, and pharmaceutical sleep aids is discussed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sleepless in America is a documentary that features a lot of information about the physical, mental, and cognitive impact of sleep deprivation. It contains some disturbing footage of people in car crashes upon impact, discussions of accident fatalities, and images of scientific experiments being conducted on rats. The sexual side effects of sleeplessness are briefly discussed; the impact of alcohol, tobacco, and medications on one's ability to catch some z's also is highlighted. It's adult-oriented and a little dry at times, but older teens may find parts of it interesting. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's certainly a lot to be learned here. In a country where 40 percent of adults and 70 percent of teenagers are sleep-deprived, this informative documentary demonstrates how sleep is no less important than water, nutritious food, and exercise for healthy human functioning. More importantly, it brings attention to the fact that, despite the critical role that sleep plays in our overall health and well-being, American society collectively fails to make it a priority. It also offers some interesting explanations about the impact modern inventions, ranging from the light bulb to the Internet, have historically had on human beings' willingness and ability to get adequate numbers of hours of undisturbed sleep to live better lives.
It succeeds at being educational and non-judgmental as it offers this information as well as some details about how to combat the effects of sleep deprivation and improve insomnia. However, given the major and frightening impact sleeplessness can have, one can't help feeling that more effort can and should be made to discuss how American society needs to reevaluate itself, its lifestyle, and the expectations placed on people to work endless hours to keep their jobs or make ends meet. The importance of being held accountable for engaging in certain activities while sleepy isn't emphasized enough, either.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.