There are few sayings more harmful than "sleep when you're dead." A cornucopia of sleep studies have proven the physical and physiological value of a good night's rest. But telling a cohesive, visual story about the benefits of sleep, a deeply private action that typically occurs in the dark, at night, is a challenge—especially under quarantine during a pandemic. To bring our video to life, we paired scientific explainers with striking, hand drawn visuals, creating a narrative that starts with the brain and moves outwards. After expounding on the advantages of sleep, we gave viewers useful information on how they can improve their own sleeping habits. Because if you're going to wait until you're dead to get a good night's rest, you might bring about the end a lot sooner than you intended to.
Sleep isn’t an inherently visual subject, but dreams are, and though they are experienced differently by everyone, we tried to capture the essence and elusiveness of a dream in a hand-drawn, frame-by-frame animation style. Drawn in Adobe Photoshop and animated in After Effects, our animators and designers enlivened the technical—and occasionally opaque—scientific explanations behind sleep’s importance to an individual's short-and long-term health.
On the editorial side, we gathered up a series of articles that have resonated with WIRED readers over the years. From the advantages sleep provides athletes to the discovery of its impact on brain health, we had a rich archive to work from. With white lined drawings, blue accents, and text set against a black, constantly moving background, we took the stories of many sleep studies and combined them into one. Because sleep is an activity many people struggle with—especially during a pandemic—we concluded with an advice section to help viewers improve their own sleeping habits.
Due to the subject matter and our collective quarantine, animation was the only option for a video like this. It turned out to be the best option. In the end we have a vibrant, info-packed, visually stimulating collaboration of art and science.
Our video was viewed nearly 200,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. It garnered over a million impressions on Twitter alone and had a reach of almost 400,000 on Facebook. We also adapted it for Instagram—using the “How To” section as a standalone video for the Instagram feed and turning the science section vertical for an Instagram story. It’s on WIRED’s website as well. Because of the video’s evergreen topic, we can continue posting it for the foreseeable future, adapting it to any new platforms that come along and continuing to reap the rewards of identifying a topic relevant to every single one of us.
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