We often think of the French together masters of living well, with wonderful cuisine, several vacation days, and a basic joie de vivre. However like most stereotypes, this one isn’t precisely true. For one thing, the French have a difficulty that you’ll uncover in most developed countries: As a current story ~ above the news show Zone Interdite revealed, about 50% of French civilization say they don’t get sufficient sleep.

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It mainly comes down to the same issue lots of us roughly the civilization may have – staying up late virtual or on the phone, or gift woken up or disturbed by among our precious associated devices. Another common sleep struggle among the French could be just as relatable to you: sleeping with a pet. I have the right to personally attest come the truth that even a generally lazy cat will certainly wake you increase at least once or double at night. According to this study, an approximated 16% of French human being would agree with me.

As i have thought about sleep in France, I’ve also realized that, although France has actually a call for gift a ar where civilization live well and also take your time, sleep doesn’t have the important role that it does in countries like Spain. There is no classic concept that siesta. The midday break in France is more dedicated to savoring a an excellent meal than to sleeping.  

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

Here are some ways to talk about sleep in French, beginning with just how to wish someone a good night. 

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If you desire to wish someone “Good night” in French, your simple choices are very limited. (This said, If you want to gain creative, an internet search because that “Comment souhaiter bonne nuit” leads to some interesting results, prefer this perform of message messages come send your missing sweetheart.)

Here room the 3 most common ways to wish someone goodnight in French:

1. Bonne nuit  

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

That said, be certain not to confuse it with Bonne soirée – good evening. If “Good evening” in English is a really formal expression, often linked with old-school vampires, it’s very common in French. Bonne soirée is supplied to finish an night or night conversation with anyone the you’re not directly 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 lock would carry out the exact same to me) because they’re not in front of me in their pajamas, and also I’m not remaining at their house and aware the they’re headed to their bedroom because that the night.

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

2. Dors bien

Meaning “sleep well,” dors bien can also be offered in the imperative form with vous: Dormez bien. But this would certainly probably typical you’re talking to many people, no that you’re addressing who in a official context, since, in most instances at least, this expression tends to reflect a details tenderness and closeness. I could see utilizing it through someone you nothing know really well, however, if you’ve to be talking about sleep and also it’s late and also you know they’ll sleep in a few hours.

For example, if mine baker speak me she’s been having trouble sleeping, and also the boulangerie is around to close for the evening, depending on the feeling of the conversation, I might say Dormez bien together I leave. Yet mostly, it’s provided with human being close to you, or with someone in a vulnerable instance (someone who is in hospital, a young child, etc.).

3. Fais de beaux rêves

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

I really love exactly how the French version implies that the sleeper can develop their own dreams. It’s kind of inspiring, in a way. Of course, at any time I have a nightmare or something weird or awkward take place in a dream, I prefer it less….

This is one more expression that would usually be supplied with who you’re near with, no in a official situation. If you used it through vous (Faites de beaux rêves) that would more than likely be to deal with multiple people, not in a official context.

So, basically, two of the three common ways come say goodnight in French are scheduled for world you’re close with. As soon as in doubt, usage Bonne nuit.

Some other sleep-related French expressions and vocabulary


Of course, “Goodnight” is only the beginning. What if you want to talk around how you sleep or slept, what type of sleeper you are, or what sort 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 do the efforts to define Rousseau’s works to me, i was too worn down to listen.)

Avoir le sommeil agité/lourd/léger

To it is in a restless/heavy/light sleeper.

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

Bien dormir

To sleep well.

We saw this previously in the command form; you’ll likewise often hear the in the passé composé, when human being 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, the means, fairly charmingly, “to sleep choose the beautiful star”. This is even more charming if, uneven me, girlfriend actually enjoy sleeping outside. Example : Malgré le froid, nous étions contents d’avoir dormi à la belle étoile. (Despite the cold, us were happy to have slept outside.)

Dormir comme…

To sleep like…

As in English and also many various other languages, in French, there room a variety of fun methods to express the 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 good today because ns slept like a groundhog./Il y avait de l’orage, mais dans notre petite chambre, nous avons dormi comme des loirs. (There was a storm yet in our tiny room, we were sleeping like dormice.)

Dormir debout

To be falling asleep standing up.

Example: Je dors debout – je vais aller me coucher. (I’m falling asleep standing increase – i’m going to walk to bed.) Be cautious not to confused this through the expression à dormir debout, which method something that is ridiculous and hard come 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, silver a dormi d’un sommeil de plomb. (After buying a new mattress, silver slept favor a stone.)

Dormir sous les ponts

To sleep on the streets.

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

Être crevé(e)

An informal means to say someone is fully exhausted, worn out, beat. Example: Je n’en peux plus – je suis crevé ! (I can’t perform anymore – ns worn out!). Crever is an amazing word. It essentially method “to burst”, but in unshened language the can denote exhaustion or also death. 

Faire la grasse matinée

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

Literally translated, this expression method “to do 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 method to say “go to sleep”. Dodo is derived from the verb dormir. Example: Allez les enfants, c’est l’heure de faire dodo ! (Let’s go children, it’s 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 – i’m going to take it a tiny nap.)

Un manque de sommeil

A lack of sleep.

This can additionally be used as a expression with the verb manquer.

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

Le marchand de sable est passé

The Sandman came by.

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

Métro, boulot, dodo

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

Ne dormir que d’un œil

To sleep through one eye open. In other words, to sleep easy so as to be conscious of your 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 add to facile si elle n’était pas noctambule. (Céline often wondered if she life would certainly be simpler if she wasn’t a night person.)

Un oiseau de nuit

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

Passer une nuit blanche

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

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

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

Piquer un somme

An informal means to to speak “to take a nap” (somme is brief for sommeil (sleep)).

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

Qui dort dîne

He/She who sleeps, eats. In other words, when you sleep, friend don’t feel hunger. 

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

For example, once I was a college student in Paris, ns rented a room in one elderly French couple’s house. The man often dozed in his chair in the evenings. One day, he wake up up and also told me jokingly, Qui dort dîne. Comme ca, j’évite de devenir obèse. (He who sleeps, eats. This way, ns won’t gain fat.)  


To snore.

Example : Tu ronfles si fort que je peux t’entendre de l’autre bout de la maison ! (You snore for this reason loudly that I deserve to hear you all 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 some way way dropping the article: Ne t’inquiète pas si tu entends des pas dans le couloir cette nuit – Charles est somnambule. (Don’t problem if you hear footsteps in the hallway tonight – Charles is a sleepwalker.)

Sleepy vs sexy: The two most typical sleep-related verb in French — and also a major faux pas you can make with them


When talking around sleep (le sommeil) in French, you will do it probably have to use among these verbs:

They can be supplied interchangeably in numerous cases yet be cautious if she talking around sleeping with someone/something!  

In English, the expression “sleep with” can be totally innocent – for example, “I sleep v the light on,” or “She sleeps v her teddy bear.” but if the context isn’t clear, it generally takes on a sexual connotation. The same is the situation for coucher. 

In fact, there space a number of expressions v coucher that indicate a person is doing an ext than sleeping:

Coucher ensemble

Sleep (have intercourse) together.

Example: Tu ne savais pas ? Ils couchent ensemble depuis au moins un an. (You didn’t know? They’ve been sleeping together because that at the very least a year.)

Coucher to water réussir

To sleep one’s method 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 yes, really deserves this promotion, or if she is sleeping her way 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, yet he sleeps around.)

But coucher no just indicate sexual intercourse. Over there are numerous ways to use this word that don’t imply that at all. Some usual 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 actually 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 utilizing coucher in an chaste sense, execute it as a reflex verb. for example, Je me couche toujours à 23h. (I always go come bed at 11pm.) or Dis donc! Vous vous couchez vachement tard ! (Say, you men go come bed bloody late!)

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

For example, previously in this article, I pointed out that i sleep with my cat. Come express the in French, I would certainly say Je dors avec mon chat. If ns said, Je couche avec mon chat, the police would be at my door, because bestiality is illegal in France!  

Sleep-related French characters

Just around every culture has that myths and beliefs about sleep. Prefer several that them, French has actually le marchand de sable (sand seller – Sandman in English). This is a male who sprinkles sand come make world (especially children) close their eyes and also fall asleep. The personality originated in very early 19th century story by Hoffmann, target the idea that sand being in one’s eyes after sleep goes earlier much further.

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Although I’ve said the French aren’t together sleep-focused as part other cultures are, lock are also at the beginning of yet another famous sleeper: La belle au bois dormant– resting Beauty. With roots in medieval French folktales, the version of her story that we know best today has actually its origins in a 17th century assimilated by Charles Perrault.

Talking about sleep in French have the right to involve some imaginative and an extremely accurate vocabulary. How do you enhance up v French sleep statistics? have the right to you use some of these words and also phrases to define how you sleep?