We often think that the French as masters of living well, with terrific cuisine, numerous vacation days, and a basic joie de vivre. But like many stereotypes, this one isn’t specifically true. For one thing, the French have actually a difficulty that you’ll discover in most occurred countries: As a recent story on the news present Zone Interdite revealed, about 50% that French people say they nothing get sufficient sleep.

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It mostly comes under to the same worry lots the us roughly the people may have actually – remaining up late digital or top top the phone, or being woken up or disturbed by among our precious linked devices. One more common sleep struggle among the French can be simply as relatable come you: sleeping with a pet. I can personally attest come the reality that even a normally lazy cat will wake you up at the very least once or double at night. According to this study, an estimated 16% of French world would agree with me.

As i’ve thought about sleep in France, I’ve additionally realized that, return France has actually a reputation for being a place where civilization live well and also take your time, sleep doesn’t have actually the important duty that the does in countries like Spain. There is no traditional concept of siesta. The midday rest in France is more specialized to savoring a an excellent meal 보다 to sleeping.  

Still, the French, favor just about any culture, have actually their own methods of talking around sleep, and these terms and also expressions are advantageous to learn. After ~ all, not only is that polite or sort to great someone a an excellent night’s sleep; indigenous the statistics i have shared, it’s likely the French human you’re talking to really needs it!

Here space some methods to talk about sleep in French, beginning with how to great someone a good night. 


If you want to wish someone “Good night” in French, your simple choices are really limited. (This said, If you desire to gain creative, an internet search for “Comment souhaiter bonne nuit” leads to some amazing results, choose this list of message messages come send your absent sweetheart.)

Here room the three most typical ways to great someone goodnight in French:

1. Bonne nuit  

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

That said, be certain not to confused it through Bonne soirée – great evening. When “Good evening” in English is a an extremely formal expression, often linked with old-school vampires, it’s very common in French. Bonne soirée is provided to end an evening or nighttime conversation v anyone the you’re not straight seeing off to bed.  

For example, if i’m in a grocery save late in ~ night, I would certainly wish the cashier Bonne soirée (and they would do the very same to me) because they’re not in prior of me in their pajamas, and I’m not remaining at your house and also aware the they’re headed to their bedroom because that the night.

On the various other hand, if i’m at my in-laws’ house and we’re every going come our bedrooms come sleep, I would wish castle Bonne nuit.

2. Dors bien

Meaning “sleep well,” dors bien can also be provided in the imperative kind with vous: Dormez bien. However this would probably mean you’re talking to many people, no that you’re addressing who in a formal context, since, in most cases at least, this expression has tendency to reflect a particular tenderness and closeness. I could see making use of it with someone you nothing know really well, however, if you’ve to be talking around sleep and also it’s late and also you recognize they’ll sleep in a couple of hours.

For example, if my baker speak me she’s been having trouble sleeping, and the boulangerie is about to close for the evening, depending on the emotion of the conversation, I might say Dormez bien as I leave. However mostly, it’s supplied with human being close to you, or v 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 identical to the English expression “Sweet dreams.”  

I really love exactly how the French version implies that the sleeper can create their own dreams. It’s type of inspiring, in a way. The course, at any time I have actually a nightmare or something weird or awkward happen in a dream, I like it less….

This is one more expression the would normally be supplied with someone you’re nearby with, not in a formal situation. If you offered it v vous (Faites de beaux rêves) the would more than likely be to address multiple people, not in a formal context.

So, basically, two of the three common ways to say goodnight in French are reserved for world you’re nearby with. As soon as in doubt, use Bonne nuit.

Some various other sleep-related French expressions and vocabulary


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

Avoir sommeil

To be tired.

Example : Il a essayé de m’expliquer l’œuvre de Rousseau, mais j’avais trop sommeil to water 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 issue if you a restless sleeper – I’m together a hefty sleeper that you won’t wake me up.)

Bien dormir

To sleep well.

We experienced this previously in the imperative form; you’ll likewise often hear it in the passé composé, when civilization are describing exactly how they slept.

For example, J’ai bien dormi (I slept well.)/Je n’ai pas bien dormi. (I no sleep well.) 

Dormir à la belle étoile

To sleep outdoors.

Literally translated, it means, rather charmingly, “to sleep like the beautiful star”. This is even much more charming if, unlike me, you actually reap sleeping outside. Example : Malgré le froid, nous étions components d’avoir dormi à la belle étoile. (Despite the cold, we were happy to have actually slept outside.)

Dormir comme…

To sleep like…

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

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

Dormir debout

To be falling asleep standing up.

Example: Je dors debout – je vais aller me coucher. (I’m falling asleep standing up – ns going to go to bed.) Be cautious not to confuse this v the expression à dormir debout, which means something that is ridiculous and hard to believe.

Dormir d’un sommeil de plomb

To sleep heavily/like a stone.

Plomb is the French word because that lead, so heavy is certainly the idea here! Example : Après avoir acheté un nouveau matelas, sylvie a dormi d’un sommeil de plomb. (After to buy a new mattress, sylvie slept choose a stone.)

Dormir sous les ponts

To sleep on the streets.

Literally, this method “to sleep under the bridges”, which plenty of homeless world in Paris go in i delivered days, and sometimes tho do. Example : Depuis qu’il a perdu tout child argent, Jacques dort sous les ponts. (Ever due to the fact that losing his money, Jacques has slept top top the streets.)

Être crevé(e)

An informal means to say someone is totally 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 amazing word. It essentially means “to burst”, yet in unshened language it can denote exhaustion or even death. 

Faire la grasse matinée

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

Literally translated, this expression way “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 concerned breakfast at the restaurant tomorrow; lock planning to sleep in.)

Faire dodo

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

Faire la sieste

To take it a nap.

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

Un manque de sommeil

A lack of sleep.

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

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

Le marchand de sable est passé

The Sandman came by.

In other words, someone/everyone has fallen asleep. For an ext on the marchand de sable, watch the ar on sleep-related characters.

Métro, boulot, dodo

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

Ne dormir que d’un œil

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

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

Un noctambule

A night person/night owl.

Example : Céline se demandait souvent si sa vie serait to add facile si elle n’était pas noctambule. (Céline regularly wondered if her life would certainly be much easier if she no a night person.)

Un oiseau de nuit

Another word because that a night person/night owl, frequently with the implication the this human being likes to invest the night in ~ parties and clubs.  

Passer une nuit blanche

To continue to be up every night (literally, “to invest a white night.”).

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

You might likewise see the expression Nuit Blanche if you’re in Paris in early October. Every year about this time, yes sir one night where a lot of of various events (mostly concerts and art installations) take ar throughout the city, indigenous dark till dawn. The frequently surreal ambiance provides it feel prefer you’re in a dream. 

Piquer un somme

An informal way to speak “to take it 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 to win after staying up every night — let’s go take a nap.)

Qui dort dîne

He/She that sleeps, eats. In other words, as soon as you sleep, you don’t feeling hunger. 

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

For example, when I was a student in Paris, i rented a room in an elderly French couple’s house. The man frequently 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 ft que je peux t’entendre de l’autre bout de la maison ! (You snore for this reason loudly the I have the right to hear you all the way across the house!)

Un/une somnambule

A sleepwalker.

If you contact someone a sleepwalker, nothing forget the rule in French that specifying someone in some way method dropping the article: Ne t’inquiète pas si tu entends des pas dans le couloir cette nuit – Charles est somnambule. (Don’t worry if you hear footsteps in the hallway tonight – Charles is a sleepwalker.)

Sleepy vs sexy: The two most common sleep-related verb in French — and also a significant faux pas you deserve to make through them


When talking about sleep (le sommeil) in French, you’ll probably have to use among these verbs:

They have the right to be provided interchangeably in countless cases however be cautious if you’re talking around sleeping with someone/something!  

In English, the expression “sleep with” can be totally innocent – because that example, “I sleep with the irradiate on,” or “She sleeps through her teddy bear.” yet if the context no clear, it generally takes on a sexual connotation. The same is the instance for coucher. 

In fact, there room a number of expressions v coucher that imply a human 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 for at least a year.)

Coucher pour réussir

To sleep one’s way to the top.

Example : Je me demande si Jeannette mérite vraiment cette promotion, ou si elle a couché to water réussir. (I wonder if Jeannette really deserves this promotion, or if she is resting her method 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 indicate sexual intercourse. There are countless ways to use this word that don’t suggest 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 to sleep in ~ Francoise’s. She has a studio apartment and also is a night owl.)

Un sac de couchage

A sleeping bag.

Apart from this expressions, though, if you want to be specific you’re making use of coucher in an innocent sense, execute it together a reflexive 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 to bed bloody late!)

But what if you desire to talk around someone resting with someone/something in a completely innocent way? In this case, usage dormir avec.  

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

Sleep-related French characters

Just about every culture has its myths and beliefs around sleep. Prefer several the them, French has le marchand de sable (sand vendor – Sandman in English). This is a man who sprinkles sand to make people (especially children) close their eyes and also fall asleep. The personality originated in very early 19th century story by Hoffmann, butt the idea the sand gift in one’s eye after sleep goes earlier much further.

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

Talking about sleep in French can involve some imaginative and an extremely accurate vocabulary. How carry out you match up through French sleep statistics? have the right to you use few of these words and also phrases to describe how you sleep?