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Wide awake

When People Cannot Sleep

ZDF 37 Grad, 2011, 30 minutes

Sleep deprivation is one of the most brutal methods of torture. People who suffer from chronic sleep disorders – and that is every fifth person in Germany (every second person complains of occasional problems with sleeping) – don’t only have to cope with the physical symptoms that this causes, but also with the psychological effects. Insomnia effects people at all levels of society; from those receiving income support to university professors. From one day to the next, even fifteen year-olds find themselves not being able to get to sleep anymore. Most often afflicted however, are people aged over 40.

‘Wide Awake’ observes people who suffer from sleep disorders for all sorts of different reasons. For these insomniacs, nighttimes have become a desperate ritual of relaxing music, fixed bed-times and a cornucopia of different remedies that are supposed to help them sleep. This film accompanies them through sleepless nights and on visits to high-tech sleep labs or self-claimed miracle-doctors. It portrays the stain placed on the sufferer’s family lives and daily routine, which increasingly threatens to fall apart. The observer is also treated to moments of hope and joy, when a therapy finally seems to work…