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5 great sci-fi movies that will put you to sleep (in a good way)

The greatest sci-fi movies often take viewers on mind-bending and exciting adventures through alternate realities, terrifying dystopias, alien worlds, and more. While many films in the genre are action-packed and exhilarating, there are also a few that showcase the power of quiet moments and restraint. Incidentally, these relaxing sci-fi movies are the perfect ones to revisit when trying to get a good night’s sleep.

The best sci-fi films to fall asleep to have dreamy visuals, a deliberately slow pace, and a beautiful score that can lull any tired listeners to much-needed slumber. Make no mistake, these are all incredible sci-fi movies that should be seen fully awake at least once, but they can then be a useful tool for a restful evening.

Dune (2021)

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides saluting with his knife in Dune.
Warner Bros. Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures

Director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One is a gorgeous sci-fi movie that takes place in an otherworldly future. Here, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) deals with the many changes and risks his family’s noble House must face as they move to the desert planet of Arrakis. Known for its precious resource, the incredibly valuable spice, Arrakis is inhospitable and dangerous, which Paul will soon learn in tragic ways.

The first part of Villeneuve’s adaptation of the classic eponymous 1965 novel by Frank Herbert depicts stunning sweeping landscapes to complement its story that’s told with an aptly slow pace. Pair that with Hans Zimmer’s mesmerizing score that captures the serene yet strange sounds of the desert, and viewers can count on at least a bit of shut-eye.

Ad Astra (2019)

Brad Pitt as an astronaut looking at the camera in Ad Astra
20th Century Fox

One of the best recent sci-fi movies that not enough people have heard of, Ad Astra follows the story of Roy Richard McBride (Brad Pitt), a brave astronaut given a daunting task. His father had previously led a crew into deep space, only to never be heard from again. Now, Roy is given a mission that links a strange power surge that threatens humankind and his dad’s final voyage.

Directed by James Gray, Ad Astra has been praised for its accurate depiction of space, which means there’s no shortage of tranquil scenes of the darkness among the stars. While there is some action during the first few minutes, which include some accidental deaths and an angry baboon, the film mostly feels like a meditative trance that can definitely induce slumber.

Arrival (2016)

Amy Adams holds up a whiteboard sign in Arrival.
Paramount Pictures

Amy Adams stars as linguistics professor Louise Banks in director Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama Arrival. It explores the country’s reaction to the arrival of mysterious UFOs that house odd extraterrestrials. Louise is enlisted by the U.S. Army as part of an effort to communicate with the aliens. As mounting tensions threaten to start a global war, Louise learns a startling truth about their visitors.

Arrival‘s iconic big twist toward the end of the movie should be appreciated at least once by anyone who has never seen the film before. After learning the true nature of Louise’s interactions with the aliens, the next best reason to rewatch the brilliant movie is for its dreamlike quality. As scenes from Louise’s life play between present events, audiences may just find themselves being lulled into a pleasant night of sleep.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

An astronaut walking down a corridor in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic epic sci-fi movie that would go on to redefine the genre and influence countless contemporaries. It’s centered on a group of astronauts, who are given a mission to go to Jupiter to examine an alien monolith. During their voyage, the sentient supercomputer on board, HAL, begins to malfunction.

Of course, A Space Odyssey is about so much more and is a legendary film that’s still studied and discussed today. It’s a must-see for any sci-fi fan, and the fact that it has held up well more than half a century after its initial release speaks volumes about its quality. It’s also the perfect movie to fall asleep to for fans who have seen it more than once. Following the initial grand rendition of “Also sprach Zarathustra,” 2001: A Space Odyssey is full of quiet moments complemented by its surreal atmosphere.

Her (2013)

Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore leaning his head against a window in Her (2013).
Warner Bros. Pictures

Sci-fi and romance collide in director Spike Jonze’s Her, a profound film that delves into a unique type of love. Her follows Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a deeply emotional man who writes personal letters for other people for a living, and who is still hurting from his failed marriage. When he buys an AI program to bond with, he unexpectedly falls in love with the voice on the other side, “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson).

With its cozy atmosphere, low-stakes story, and soothing soundtrack by Arcade Fire, Her is the ideal choice for viewers in need of deep sleep. Theodore and Samantha’s one-of-a-kind love story unfolds over intimate moments full of whispered questions and promises, making it easy to let the movie fade into the background.

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Saab Hannah
Saab whips up SEO-optimized articles as a writer for Digital Trends and updates top-performing articles on Collider.
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