Real Sleep is the second uploaded entry in Local 58’s second season and the seventh uploaded overall in the series. The episode features the broadcast of a personalized video cassette designed to act as a sleeping aid.
The episode begins with Local 58 displaying their afternoon schedule, which features a section at 3PM for 'Real Sleep'. The feed then cuts to the broadcast of a personalized video tape from a television intended for personal use by a Philip Gerhardt.
As the video begins, it is shown that the tape was created by the Thought Research Initiative and that the tape is some sort of instructional guide. The video goes through several true or false questions about the nature of sleep, claiming that dreams and dreaming are wasteful and not necessary for proper rest. The video continues with their explanation of the Kleitman Map, an index of electrical activity of a brain in the process of dreaming. The Initiative claims to have a method that allows them to isolate the exact neural pathways that dreaming uses and cancel them out, creating 'real sleep'.
The video proceeds into an instructional section about how to induce the user's 'anti-dream', using Gerhardt's personalized Kleitman map to do so.
- Sequence 1: Visual Calibration instructs the user to stare at the center of the screen as a series of flashing negative-inverted human faces begin to play in quick succession accompanied by feedback noise. The sequence ends on a distorted face.
- Sequence 2: Cortical Memory instructs the user to continue focusing on the center of the screen. Two sets of the flashing faces on either side begin to play, slowly converging together to form one face in the center that then disappears.
- Sequence 3: Ablation Of Subconscious instructs the user to repeat the phrase "THERE ARE NO FACES" out loud after it is spoken by a synthesized voice. At the same time, a barrage of distorted human facial features are flashed at the user before they eventually fade into a single constant that is burned into the screen.
- Sequence 4: Acceptance instructs the user to read and to not read a series of quickly flashing messages while the same synthesized voice from Sequence 3 slowly speaks "THERE ARE NO FACES". The flashing messages continuously reference the Initiative's disdain for dreaming:
- ONLY THE AWAKE MAY THINK
- SEEING IS FOR OPEN EYES
- COGNITION IS A LIE
- I DREAM THE WORLD AWAKE
- THERE ARE NO FACES
- DREAMING IS A VESTIGE
- SLEEP IS PRETEND
- A DREAM IS A COWARDLY THOUGHT
- SLEEP IS NOT CIVILIZED
- THE MIND IS A TYRANT
- THIS IS YOUR TIME NOW
- I WILL NEVER DREAM AGAIN
- STAY OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM
- THERE IS WORK TO BE DONE
- DREAMS ARE JUST SCREAMING WITH PICTURES
- THE PURE OF MIND DO NOT SLUMBER
- NO GOOD THOUGHT FOLLOWS INSTINCT
- THE LIE OF SLEEP SEEKS MANY VESSELS
- WE ARE OUR OWN GODS
- LET COGNIZANCE NOURISH ITSELF
- LOGIC IS THE FINAL BURDEN
- THE PRIMITIVE MIND DESERVES ITS NIGHTMARES
- WHEN WE SLEEP WE DIE
- I AM AN IDEA THINKING ITSELF
- THEY ARE NOT FACES
- THE SUBCONSCIOUS IS A PARASITE
- DREAMING IS A CANCER ON THE FACE OF SLEEP
- THEY FOLLOW NIGHT TO BLEED DREAMS
- THE PRIMITIVE MIND DESERVES ITS NIGHTMARES
- YOUR HOME HAS ANOTHER DOOR
- UNCONSCIOUSNESS IS A THREAT
- WE ARE NOT MEANT TO DREAM
- YOU OWE THE MESSENGER
- WHAT IS TRUE UNMAKES THE FALSE
- SLEEP IS A SCAVENGER
With the sequences completed, the video then congratulates the viewer on completing them, claiming that they will have a night of dreamless sleep ahead. It advises the viewer to call for a Initiative technician if there are any unintended side effects and not to see a doctor before it abruptly ends.
- The title screen that displays the tape's intended personal use by Gerhardt displays an ID number of 750117. This implies that there are many other users of the Initiative who use similar tapes to achieve real sleep.
- Text saying “PLAY” flashes on the screen before the Real Sleep casette plays, suggesting that what we’re seeing is not a televised broadcast but rather a recording of someone’s personal television feed.
- The Kleitman map may be a reference to American psychologist Nathaniel Kleitman who is recognized as the "father of modern sleep research" and was a co-discoverer of REM sleep.
- After the freeze frame of the final face in Sequence 2 disappears, the afterimage of the face artificially lingers on the orange screen for about 1.5 seconds before fading out.
- In Sequence 4, a distorted audio clip in the right channel can be heard continuously saying "I Dream The World Awake", referencing one of the messages that can be seen. Kris Straub claimed that something was also supposed to be audible in the left channel, but was left out in an exporting error.
- The font used for Gerhardt's ID at the very beginning of the tape as well as the text at the end of the TRI logo is the same font used for The Weather Channel's WeatherStar I, II, and III. The font used during the four sequences of the tape is either the one used for the WeatherStar 4000 or the WeatherStar Jr. All three fonts can be downloaded here.