We often think of the French as masters of life well, with great cuisine, several vacation days, and also a basic joie de vivre. However like many stereotypes, this one isn’t precisely true. Because that one thing, the French have actually a difficulty that you’ll find in most developed countries: As a recent story ~ above the news present Zone Interdite revealed, around 50% the French world say they don’t get sufficient sleep.

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It mainly comes under to the same worry lots the us approximately the world may have actually – continuing to be up late digital or ~ above the phone, or being woken up or disturbed by one of our precious associated devices. One more common sleep struggle among the French could be simply as relatable to you: resting with a pet. I can personally attest come the fact that also a generally lazy cat will wake you up at least once or twice at night. Follow to this study, an estimated 16% of French human being would agree through me.

As i’ve thought around sleep in France, I’ve additionally realized that, return France has a reputation for gift a ar where human being live well and also take their time, sleep doesn’t have actually the important duty that it does in countries like Spain. There is no timeless concept of siesta. The midday break in France is more committed to savoring a good meal than to sleeping.  

Still, the French, favor just around any culture, have their own ways of talking around sleep, and also these terms and also expressions are advantageous to learn. After ~ all, not only is the polite or kind to great someone a great night’s sleep; native the statistics i have shared, it’s likely the French human you’re talk to really demands it!

Here space some means to talk around sleep in French, starting with how to great someone a great night. 

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If you want to wish someone “Good night” in French, your simple choices are an extremely limited. (This said, If you desire to obtain creative, an net search because that “Comment souhaiter bonne nuit” leads to some amazing results, prefer this list of message messages to send your lacking sweetheart.)

Here space the three most common ways to great someone goodnight in French:

1. Bonne nuit  

Bonne nuit literally method “Good night” and also is supplied the same means as in English. It have the right to be stated to anyone, and also is the easiest, most simple nighttime farewell.

That said, be sure not to confuse it v Bonne soirée – great evening. If “Good evening” in English is a really formal expression, often linked with old-school vampires, it’s really common in French. Bonne soirée is provided to finish an night or nighttime conversation v anyone the you’re not straight seeing off to bed.  

For example, if ns in a grocery save late in ~ night, I would wish the cashier Bonne soirée (and they would carry out the very same to me) since they’re not in former of me in their pajamas, and also I’m not remaining at your house and also aware the they’re headed to their bedroom for the night.

On the various other hand, if i’m at mine in-laws’ house and we’re all going come our bedrooms to sleep, I would certainly wish them Bonne nuit.

2. Dors bien

Meaning “sleep well,” dors bien can additionally be supplied in the imperative form with vous: Dormez bien. But this would certainly probably median you’re talking to multiple people, no that you addressing someone in a official context, since, in most situations at least, this expression has tendency to reflect a particular tenderness and also closeness. I could see making use of it through someone you don’t know really well, however, if you’ve been talking about sleep and it’s late and you recognize they’ll sleep in a couple of hours.

For example, if my baker tells me she’s been having actually trouble sleeping, and the boulangerie is about to close for the evening, depending on the feeling of the conversation, I can say Dormez bien together I leave. But mostly, it’s used with people close come you, or with someone in a vulnerable instance (someone that is in hospital, a young child, etc.).

3. Fais de beaux rêves

Literally, “Make beautiful dreams,” fais de beaux rêves is the French indistinguishable to the English expression “Sweet dreams.”  

I really love just how the French version implies that the sleeper can produce their own dreams. It’s type of inspiring, in a way. That course, anytime I have actually a nightmare or something weird or awkward take place in a dream, I favor it less….

This is an additional expression that would usually be offered with someone you’re close with, no in a officially situation. If you offered it through vous (Faites de beaux rêves) that would most likely be to address multiple people, no in a officially context.

So, basically, 2 of the three typical ways to say goodnight in French are reserved for civilization you’re close with. As soon as in doubt, use Bonne nuit.

Some other sleep-related French expressions and also vocabulary


Of course, “Goodnight” is just the beginning. What if you want to talk about how friend sleep or slept, what kind of sleeper girlfriend are, or what type of night you had? right here are some words and also expressions to aid with that:

Avoir sommeil

To it is in tired.

Example : Il a essayé de m’expliquer l’œuvre de Rousseau, mais j’avais trop sommeil pour l’écouter. (Hard together he make the efforts to describe Rousseau’s works to me, ns was too exhausted to listen.)

Avoir le sommeil agité/lourd/léger

To be a restless/heavy/light sleeper.

Example : Ne t’inquiètes pas si tu as le sommeil agité – j’ai le sommeil lourd, tu ne me réveilleras pas. (Don’t problem if you a restless sleeper – I’m such a heavy sleeper the you won’t wake up me up.)

Bien dormir

To sleep well.

We witnessed this formerly in the imperative form; you’ll additionally often hear that in the passé composé, when world are describing just how they slept.

For example, J’ai bien dormi (I slept well.)/Je n’ai pas bien dormi. (I didn’t sleep well.) 

Dormir à la belle étoile

To sleep outdoors.

Literally translated, that means, rather charmingly, “to sleep choose the beautiful star”. This is even more charming if, uneven me, friend actually enjoy sleeping outside. Example : Malgré le froid, nous étions contents d’avoir dormi à la belle étoile. (Despite the cold, we were happy to have slept outside.)

Dormir comme…

To sleep like…

As in English and many other languages, in French, there space a variety of fun ways to express that you’ve slept well. right here are the many common: 

Examples: Je me sens bien aujourd’hui parce que hier soir j’ai dormi comme une marmotte. (I feel an excellent today because ns slept favor a groundhog./Il y avait de l’orage, mais dans notre petite chambre, nous avons dormi comme des loirs. (There was a storm however in our tiny room, us were sleeping like dormice.)

Dormir debout

To be falling sleep standing up.

Example: Je dors debout – je vais aller me coucher. (I’m falling sleep standing up – ns going to walk to bed.) Be careful not to confuse this with the expression à dormir debout, which way something the is ridiculous and hard to believe.

Dormir d’un sommeil de plomb

To sleep heavily/like a stone.

Plomb is the French word for lead, so heavy is absolutely the idea here! Example : Après avoir acheté un nouveau matelas, silver a dormi d’un sommeil de plomb. (After to buy a brand-new mattress, sylvie slept prefer a stone.)

Dormir sous les ponts

To sleep top top the streets.

Literally, this way “to sleep under the bridges”, which countless homeless civilization in Paris did in bygone days, and also sometimes still do. Example : Depuis qu’il a perdu tout kid argent, Jacques dort sous les ponts. (Ever since losing his money, Jacques has slept ~ above the streets.)

Être crevé(e)

An informal method to say who is fully exhausted, worn out, beat. Example: Je n’en peux to add – je suis crevé ! (I can’t do anymore – i’m worn out!). Crever is an exciting word. It essentially means “to burst”, however in unshened language it can denote exhaustion or also death. 

Faire la grasse matinée

To sleep in/sleep late/have a lie-in.

Literally translated, this expression means “to make the fat morning.” Example : Ils ne viendront pas to water le petit-déjeuner au restaurant demain ; ils comptent faire la grasse matinée. (They won’t come to breakfast at the restaurant tomorrow; lock planning come sleep in.)

Faire dodo

A childish method to speak “go come sleep”. Dodo is obtained from the verb dormir. Example: Allez les enfants, c’est l’heure de faire dodo ! (Let’s go children, that time to go night-night!)

Faire la sieste

To take a nap.

Examples:  Il a cinq ans mais il fait toujours la sieste. (He’s 5 years old however he quiet takes a nap.)/J’ai sommeil – je vais faire une petite sieste. (I’m sleepy – ns going to take it a little nap.)

Un manque de sommeil

A lack of sleep.

This can also be offered as a expression with the verb manquer.

Example: Selon un sondage, la moitié des Français souffriraient d’un manque de sommeil. (According come a survey, fifty percent the French population is enduring from a absence of sleep.)

Le marchand de sable est passé

The Sandman came by.

In various other words, someone/everyone has fallen asleep. For much more on the marchand de sable, watch the section on sleep-related characters.

Métro, boulot, dodo

Essentially, “transport, job, sleep”, this usual expression evokes the everyday routine.

Ne dormir que d’un œil

To sleep v one eye open. In other words, to sleep easy so regarding be conscious of her surroundings.

Example : Malgré la fatigue, je n’ai dormi que d’un œil. (I slept with one eye open regardless of being tired.)

Un noctambule

A night person/night owl.

Example : Céline se demandait souvent si sa vie serait plus facile si elle n’était pas noctambule. (Céline often wondered if her life would certainly be less complicated if she no a night person.)

Un oiseau de nuit

Another word because that a night person/night owl, often with the implication the this person likes to spend the night in ~ parties and also clubs.  

Passer une nuit blanche

To remain up all night (literally, “to spend a white night.”).

This deserve to be a choice: J’ai du mal à me concentrer aujourd’hui ; ~ above s’est tous retrouvés to water une soirée chez Denis et finalement on y a passé une nuit blanche. (I’m having actually trouble concentrating today; critical night us all acquired together at Denis’s house and also ended up staying up all night.), or it can be involuntary: J’étais tellement inquiète que j’ai passé une nuit blanche.  (I to be so concerned that ns couldn’t sleep.)

You might also see the expression Nuit Blanche if you in Paris in early on October. Every year approximately this time, yes one night where a many of different events (mostly concerts and art installations) take ar throughout the city, native dark till dawn. The commonly surreal ambiance makes it feel like you’re in a dream. 

Piquer un somme

An informal way to say “to take a nap” (somme is quick for sommeil (sleep)).

Example : Nous étions trop crevés après cette nuit blanche, donc nous avons piqué un somme. (We’re beat after continuing to be up every night — let’s go take a nap.)

Qui dort dîne

He/She that sleeps, eats. In various other words, once you sleep, you don’t feel hunger. 

This expression might seem Hans Christian Andersen-level sad, yet I’ve heard it supplied in non-serious contexts.

For example, as soon as I to be a student in Paris, i rented a room in an elderly French couple’s house. The man often dozed in his chair in the evenings. One day, he woke up and told me jokingly, Qui dort dîne. Comme ca, j’évite de devenir obèse. (He that sleeps, eats. This way, i won’t get fat.)  


To snore.

Example : Tu ronfles si fort que je peux t’entendre de l’autre bout de la maison ! (You snore so loudly the I have the right to hear you every the method across the house!)

Un/une somnambule

A sleepwalker.

If you call someone a sleepwalker, nothing forget the dominance in French that defining someone in part way way dropping the article: Ne t’inquiète pas si tu entends des pas dans le couloir cette nuit – Charles est somnambule. (Don’t issue if friend hear footsteps in the hallway tonight – Charles is a sleepwalker.)

Sleepy vs sexy: The 2 most typical sleep-related verb in French — and also a major faux pas you have the right to make through them


When talking about sleep (le sommeil) in French, you will do it probably need to use one of these verbs:

They deserve to be used interchangeably in many cases but be mindful if you talking around sleeping with someone/something!  

In English, the expression “sleep with” have the right to be completely innocent – because that example, “I sleep with the light on,” or “She sleeps with her teddy bear.” however if the context isn’t clear, it usually takes ~ above a sex-related connotation. The exact same is the instance for coucher. 

In fact, there room a variety of expressions v coucher that suggest a human being is doing more than sleeping:

Coucher ensemble

Sleep (have intercourse) together.

Example: Tu ne savais pas ? Ils couchent ensemble depuis au moins un an. (You no know? They’ve been resting together because that at least a year.)

Coucher to water réussir

To sleep one’s means to the top.

Example : Je me demande si Jeannette mérite vraiment cette promotion, ou si elle a couché pour réussir. (I wonder if Jeannette really deserves this promotion, or if she is sleeping her means to the top.)

Coucher à droite à gauche

To sleep around.

Example : Thierry semble pudique, mais il couche à droite et à gauche. (Thierry appears prudish, but he sleeps around.)

But coucher doesn’t just suggest sexual intercourse. There are plenty of ways to usage this word the don’t indicate that in ~ all. Some typical non-sexy sleep words regarded coucher include:

Example: Si tu es couche-tôt, il vaut mieux ne pas dormir chez Françoise. Elle a un studio et elle est couche-tard. (If you walk to bed early, it’s ideal not come sleep at Francoise’s. She has a studio apartment and also is a night owl.)

Un sac de couchage

A resting bag.

Apart from this expressions, though, if you desire to be certain you’re utilizing coucher in an innocent sense, execute it together a reflex verb. because that example, Je me couche toujours à 23h. (I always go to bed in ~ 11pm.) or Dis donc! Vous vous couchez vachement tard ! (Say, you men go come bed bloody late!)

But what if you want to talk about someone resting with someone/something in a entirely innocent way? In this case, use dormir avec.  

For example, earlier in this article, I mentioned that i sleep v my cat. To express the in French, I would certainly say Je dors avec mon chat. If i said, Je couche avec mon chat, the police would be at my door, since bestiality is illegal in France!  

Sleep-related French characters

Just around every society has that myths and beliefs about sleep. Favor several of them, French has actually le marchand de sable (sand vendor – Sandman in English). This is a male who sprinkles sand to make civilization (especially children) close their eyes and also fall asleep. The character originated in an early 19th century story through Hoffmann, target the idea that sand gift in one’s eye after sleep goes earlier much further.

See more: Who Sings The Future Belongs To Me, Tomorrow Belongs To Me

Although I’ve claimed the French aren’t together sleep-focused as some other cultures are, lock are additionally at the beginning of yet another famous sleeper: La belle au bois dormant– resting Beauty. V roots in medieval French folktales, the variation of her story that we know ideal today has its beginnings in a 17th century fairytale by Charles Perrault.

Talking about sleep in French can involve part imaginative and an extremely accurate vocabulary. How perform you match up with French sleep statistics? deserve to you use some of these words and phrases to describe how you sleep?