Movie sleep rituals
August 30, 2004 2:54 PM   Subscribe

A very bright acquaintance of mine, personable, well adjusted, loving dad, relaxes by watching the same short scenes from a favorite movie (LOTR, Matrix, etc.). He'll watch the same scene every night for months. He says that when the line is delivered, he feels complete and can go to bed. Is this common? Does this behavior have a name?
posted by kk to Media & Arts (26 answers total)
It doesn't seem all that different from reading to your kid, or reading to yourself, the same go-to-sleep passages from a book. See Good Night Moon. Speaking as someone who's dependent on melatonin for sleepiness, any drug-free go-to-sleep ritual that works is just fine with me. I wish I knew one.
posted by jfuller at 3:27 PM on August 30, 2004

This sounds like a bit of obsessive-compulsive to me.

Not that there's anything wrong with that....and I should talk, as I just about have O Brother Where Art Thou memorized....

" COURSE it's Pete-just look at him!"
posted by konolia at 3:56 PM on August 30, 2004

I don't know... when I get a favorite song I'll listen to it over and over for a month or two until I am bored of it and find something new. I am completely the opposite with movies, DVDs are worthless to me because I rarely watch a movie more than once. Still... I don't see this as being much different.
posted by banished at 4:15 PM on August 30, 2004

any drug-free go-to-sleep ritual that works is just fine with me. I wish I knew one.
When going to bed, I play the same cd over and over. A radio station seemed to keep me up since a newly heard song gave me "a pick me up."

listen to it over and over for a month or two until I am bored of it
Would usually fall asleep midway through the second song. A routinely repeated schedule works good for sleeping too. So since he is listening to the same phrase over and over. Nothing new, the phrase would not stimulate the brain and have a calming effect by being his echoing last thoughts. Like me listening to the same songs or song, over and over. Maybe?
posted by thomcatspike at 5:05 PM on August 30, 2004

This sounds like a bit of obsessive-compulsive to me.

listen to this:

"Our father, who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses..."

is this obsessive compulsive behavior, too? because millions of people deliver these lines every night, and after that they feel complete.
are they all mentally ill?
hardly, I'd say.
it's behavioral -- a ritual that offers an emotional payback. nothing wrong with that.
posted by matteo at 5:19 PM on August 30, 2004

are they all mentally ill?

... you really don't want to go there.
posted by kindall at 5:24 PM on August 30, 2004

Didn't Spaulding Grey talk in one of his filmed monologues about how he couldn't leave his apartment unless he listened to the radio and turned it off on a positive word?

If it is obsessive compulsive, it's a minor form of it, and if he manages to live an otherwise complete and fulfilling life in spite of it, then more power to him.
posted by crunchland at 5:45 PM on August 30, 2004

Yeah the thing that makes OCD a disorder is that it interferes with your normal life, otherwise it's just a habit, or a tic, or whatever. Your friend doesn't seem put out by doing this [whether he feels he HAS to do this might be the OCD indicator] so there's no problem. Many people have sleep rituals that are the cues for their body to start winding down. These can be really straightforward like brushing teeth, putting on pjs, even just lying down, or more quirky like listening to one song, watching one line of a movie, or my own personal one, smoking one cigarette [I don't otherwise smoke]. You can tell that the thing you do has developed into a sleep ritual if you notice that doing the thing at another time [seeing the movie, having a cigarette, brushing teeth] actually makes you feel relaxed and/or sleepy.
posted by jessamyn at 6:28 PM on August 30, 2004

Matteo, that is a pattern for prayer, not necessarily meant to be repeated by rote.

If you want an explanation email me, as this is somebody else's thread and discussion.
posted by konolia at 6:29 PM on August 30, 2004

I am not implying the guy is ill, btw.
posted by konolia at 6:30 PM on August 30, 2004

So change "movie scene" to "some gin" or "a half a bowl" before sleep, does this change? As I know people (the age difference between the two is close to half a century...) who don't have problems with either of the substance but still do the nightly ritual...
posted by geoff. at 6:32 PM on August 30, 2004

Uh, didn't Spaulding eventually succeed in killing himself after many, many tries? Maybe he's not the best poster child for the "It's harmless," take on this.
posted by NortonDC at 8:24 PM on August 30, 2004

Though there's no way to know, I don't think it had much to do with his radio obsession, do you?
posted by crunchland at 8:33 PM on August 30, 2004

I don't do what this guy does, but since I'm a lifetime insomniac and movie buff, I do watch certain movies (like Solaris) or parts of movies (like the first 40 minutes of Alien) when I'm trying to relax and hopefully get myself sleepy (and I have specific ones I like when I'm sick, or when I'm sad, etc. Like music, only with pictures!), so I second the idea that this may just be a bedtime ritual for him. As jessamyn said, it's not a problem unless it's a problem.
posted by biscotti at 9:06 PM on August 30, 2004

Spaulding was bipolar.That's a whole different post.
posted by konolia at 9:49 PM on August 30, 2004

Most of our genetic traits - OCD included - have adaptive evolutionary merit.

Rituals such as this establish overlays of regularity and so serve to mitigate stress.

The behavior - in itself - might seem weird, but I think it's actually a healthy adaptive coping mechanism.

Where's my pineapple frappe ?
posted by troutfishing at 10:14 PM on August 30, 2004

biscotti- you watch Alien to relax?
posted by gen at 12:31 AM on August 31, 2004

When I was in high school, I would listen to the same CD every night while going to sleep. I stopped in preperation for going to college and having roommates.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:37 AM on August 31, 2004

gen - My roommate freshman year of college used to put on Pantera to sleep to.
posted by mmascolino at 7:23 AM on August 31, 2004

gen - the first half hour or so, yeah. I know it sounds weird, but it's all slow tracking camera movements through space and the empty ship and that sort of thing, there's no chestbursting monsters or anything like that until quite a bit later in the film (the film's a lot less relaxing once the hijinks start to ensue). It's quite beautiful and peaceful, and I've seen the movie so many times that I can just watch that part without considering it in the larger context of the movie as a whole unless I want to.
posted by biscotti at 7:32 AM on August 31, 2004

Response by poster: A Going To Sleep Ritual. Ok, I get it. (I don't have one. Maybe I should.)

Thanks for the reassuring replies.
posted by kk at 7:48 AM on August 31, 2004

Biscotti: I, too, frequently watch the first forty minutes of Alien quite often. There's something mesmerizing about it: the gentle breezes, the flickering lights, Mother's click-click-clicking.

Maybe I watch it too much, though. My wife and I recently went on a cruise. I was fascinated by the lights in our cabin. When you flipped the switch, the fluorescent bulbs kind of pulsed and thrummed to life in a random, staggered order.

"Alien lights!" I told my wife, all excited. I flipped the switch off and on repeatedly just to watch them.

She was unimpressed.
posted by jdroth at 8:15 AM on August 31, 2004

I own all of the M*A*S*H boxed DVD sets that have yet been released. Every day after work, I fix dinner and watch an episode or two.

And often, while I'm working, I'll let them run in the background - occasionally looking up when a good bit comes around.

I do the same with the Honeymooners. Though I sometimes think it a bit strange, I realize that it's no different than someone who has a favorite record they listen to in the evening. Or a musician they particularly enjoy while cooking.

The difference lies in the fact that it's video. We're trained to think of it as an active experience - not something that can be passive and repetitive. But really, there isn't much of a difference when you approach it objectively.

And as the DVD and portable video devices become more widespread and convenient, this habit will become increasingly commonplace.
posted by aladfar at 9:39 AM on August 31, 2004

Ugh. MASH, like I Love Lucy, The Simpsons, Cheers, and Seinfeld, has been ruined for me by way, way, way too many syndicated repeats. Short of Clockwork Orange style, I can't force myself to watch any of those shows any more.
posted by crunchland at 9:58 AM on August 31, 2004

Depends who you ask, matteo.

If you ask me, hell yes. In fact, so mentally ill, us Canadians banished letting kids get their heads deranged by that crap many, many, many years ago. (Thank God!)

I'd say your friend is OCD for sure. But hey, it isn't interfering with his life, so what the hell.
posted by shepd at 10:25 AM on August 31, 2004

Who says movies (or music, or the rosary, or going for a run before bed or when you wake up, or whatever) aren't a drug?

And I'd guess it's quite common, and normal, and more often than not, entirely healthy.
posted by chicobangs at 10:35 AM on August 31, 2004

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