40 winks in the distant future

Sleep may elude us for various reasons but what will it be like in the future and what can sci-fi tell us about our ability to catch some z’s? Richard Trenholm looked at the different references to sleep in sci-fi, including cryosleep:

According to many sci-fi stories, in the future we’ll probably be sleeping a lot more — for decades or even centuries, in fact. That’s the theory behind cryosleep, which involves freezing people in suspended animation during the lengthy stretches of time required to travel across the vastness of space.

Cryosleep factors into loads of movies, from Alien to Avatar, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Event Horizon. The defrosting scene is a sci-fi staple, as bleary-eyed travelers awake from glass cases and re-examine their surroundings. It’s a handy trick for filmmakers, because it offers a plausible space travel method and gives the audience useful exposition when disoriented characters ask “How long have I been out?”

Cryosleep is basically cryonics as it freezes people for extended periods of time but in the case of sci-fi, it’s often when people are in spaceships and travelling for light years. Other sci-fi references include Doctor Who, Demolition Man, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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