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Could Awake Happen In Real Life?

The last few years have seen a shift in the horror landscape. The weirdos and slashers and hockey mask spokesmodels of the '80s and '90s have taken a back seat to more base sources of terror, usually centered around moms who have had it up to here with all of this nonsense. "A Quiet Place" asked, "What if you couldn't make noise?" "Bird Box" proffered the query, "What if your peepers were out of bounds?" Aspects of the daily human experience, by their very nature taken for granted, have become the new go-to for stories designed to unsettle. It can only be assumed that a movie about people who die if they smell stuff is currently in the works at Blumhouse, probably titled something like "Olfactory" or "Sniff" and, if we had to guess, starring Sarah Chalke.

And 2021 sees the addition of a new entry in this niche genre: "Awake." The Netflix original sees Gina Rodriguez ("Jane the Virgin") as Jill, a mother who has had it up to here with all of this nonsense. Gina is caught up in a struggle for survival when an unknowable global catastrophe sends the world into turmoil, trashing all electronics and robbing mankind of their ability to sleep. From the perspective of anyone who loves Tamagotchies and naps, it's more or less the worst-case scenario.

But could it happen in real life? The simple answer: "No. Probably not. Maybe. Don't worry about it."

Awake probably won't happen, bud

If you're wondering whether a worldwide event could both knock out everyone's iPads and keep them from going nappy-bye, then, you know, no-ish. There's a hypothetical argument to be made that a solar storm, if it got big enough, could heavily disrupt the electrical grid, and as The Washington Times reported in 2014, there's at least a suspicious correlation between solar flares and funny business in brain activity. Could such an event cause an "Awake" scenario? There's plenty of evidence to the contrary, but we won't know for sure until it happens, in much the same way that we won't know if time starts going backwards when someone flies around the Earth really fast until Superman actually tries it.

But what of the cranky business? The "Purge"-adjacent violent shenanigans that "Awake" imagines humanity getting up to in a world where nobody is getting a solid eight hours a night? And would a person really die if they didn't sleep long enough?

Again, probably not, at least not in the way that the movie seems to present things. Despite the fact that we spend a full third of our lives sleeping, we still have a remarkably tenuous grasp on what long-term sleep deprivation will do to a person. We know that folks have been recorded going upwards of 11 days without any shut-eye and that they remained markedly alive afterwards. The crabbiness and hallucination parts are certainly real, but there's no record of a person getting so yawny that they died. At best, we can point to a link between sleep loss and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and long-term mental health problems. The truth is often less sexy than you'd hope. You can look at the monsters from "Bird Box" without getting weird, too.

"Awake" premieres on Netflix on June 9, 2021.