Sleep Learning

Sleep Learning

Screenplay by Alan Nafzger

Timothy, a young graduate student with the ability to sleep learn is sabotaged by his live-in girlfriend. As a result of his tampered with sleep learning tapes, he exhibits some strange controversial ideas. Alienated from friends and professors, the graduate student must rescue his academic career with one remaining friend and an eccentric professor.


If a certain part a person’s brain doesn’t sleep at night, then perhaps they walk in their sleep. And conversely, if a different part of their brain doesn’t sleep at night, they might be sleep learner.

Sleep Learning
Sleep Learning

This screenplay is a comedy about a college student, Timothy, who for years has realized he is a sleep learner. He learns little during the day. All throughout undergraduate school, he was a sleep learner. In graduate school, he is still recording whatever professor during the day and plays it again through the night as he sleeps. He has a computer that converts books to text and then to voice. He listens to lectures and reads books as he sleeps.

With this method he is remarkably successful. He maintains his grades well enough and he is actually considering a career in academia.

The problem begins when he cheats on his live in girlfriend, Jennifer. After the infidelity, financially neither can move out of the apartment. Every apartment in the college town is occupied. Her friends can’t help and his friends can’t help either. They must remain in the same apartment. Fortunately there are two bedrooms, so they agree to be roommates.

As there is nothing like a woman’s scorn; the aggrieved girlfriend each night turns off his recordings of professors. She plays instead, East to West AM, a North American (U.S. and Canada) late-night radio talk show that deals with a variety of topics, but most frequently ones that relate to either the paranormal and conspiracy theories.

Also, the jilted girlfriend is a rival for an important academic prize. They are the two finalists for admission to a Ph.D. program. Neither want to earn their Ph.D. from a lesser school.

His reputation at the university sinks; but his reputation with the new girlfriend and her friends increases. He is a big hit with the grocer, the parking lot attendant and the everyday Joe.

Sleep Learning
Sleep Learning

His professors begin to worry and Timothy begins to question his entire academic future. He considers leaving school to join the military. His new belief in the paranormal and almost every conspiracy theory out there, makes his friends from school, academic family and professors ask questions.

The popular overnight radio program has an estimated 6-12 million listeners on any given night. The program has a cult following of night security guards, social outcasts, prostitutes, truck drivers. It is the most popular radio show from 12 am to 4 am.

The East to West AM format consists of a combination of live callers and long format interviews. The subject matter covers unusual topics and is full of strange personal stories related to callers, junk science, pseudo experts and non-peer reviewed scientists.

While program content is often focused on paranormal and fringe subjects, sometimes, world-class scientists are featured in long format interviews. Topics discussed include the near-death experience, climate change, cosmology, quantum physics, remote viewing, hauntings, contact with extraterrestrials, psychic reading, vampires, metaphysics, science and religion, conspiracy theories, Area 51, crop circles, cryptozoology, Bigfoot, the Hollow Earth hypothesis, and science fiction literature, among others. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the events of that day (as well as alternate theories surrounding them) and current U.S. counter-terrorism strategy is a frequent theme.

To make things worse, East to West AM has a policy respecting the controversial opinions of guests and callers. What really eats away at our main character’s academic prowess is the program’s policy to allow expression of opinion go unchallenged. This rule extends as far as a former scientist’s contention that features on Mars are artificial, constructed by a civilization that once inhabited the planet. The host does not challenge these statements and agrees with whomever is making the outlandish statement. During hours of “open lines”, calls are taken and put on air. Uneducated bakers working in doughnut shops are treated like Nobel laureates.

To give the film a flair of a true story, there are several phone lines, “East of the Mississippi”, “West of the Mississippi”, “Last-time callers”, “Streaming callers”, A “wild card” line, and a Skype line. Sometimes, East to West AM rolls out more numbers on special occasions, including lines that are reserved for special “themed” callers, for example those who claim to be from other dimensions, time periods, and those possessed by spirits.

The Halloween edition of East to West AM becomes Apparition to Apparition AM, as listeners call in with their ghost stories.

The New Year’s Eve show entails listeners calling in their predictions for the coming year, and the host rating the predictions made a year earlier. The show is so off-the-wall there is a prohibition of predictions that predict the assassination of any person or the death of the U.S. president.

After sleep learning this radio program for a week, Timothy begins to share some of these new strange ideas.  Timothy manages to alienate just about every professor and classmate at the university. Timothy is saved just in the nick-of-time by one last loyal friend and an astute but free-thinking professor. They discover the cruel trick and rescue Timothy’s academic career.



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Sleep Learning Screenplay
Sleep Learning



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