We frequently think of the French as masters of living well, with fantastic cuisine, several vacation days, and also a general joie de vivre. But like most stereotypes, this one isn’t specifically true. For one thing, the French have a problem that you’ll find in most developed countries: As a recent story top top the news show Zone Interdite revealed, about 50% the French people say they nothing get sufficient sleep.

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It largely comes down to the same problem lots of us approximately the world may have – remaining up late online or ~ above the phone, or being woken up or disturbed by among our precious linked devices. One more common sleep struggle among the French could be simply as relatable come you: resting with a pet. I have the right to personally attest come the truth that even a normally lazy cat will certainly wake you up at the very least once or double at night. Follow to this study, an estimated 16% that French world would agree with me.

As i’ve thought around sleep in France, I’ve also realized that, return France has a call for gift a ar where world live well and also take your time, sleep doesn’t have actually the important function that it does in nations like Spain. There is no traditional concept of siesta. The midday rest in France is more devoted to savoring a good meal 보다 to sleeping.  

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

Here room some ways to talk around sleep in French, beginning with just how to great someone a good night. 

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If you desire to great someone “Good night” in French, your basic choices are an extremely limited. (This said, If you desire to obtain creative, an internet search for “Comment souhaiter bonne nuit” leader to some exciting results, favor this list of text messages come send your lacking sweetheart.)

Here are the 3 most usual ways to wish someone goodnight in French:

1. Bonne nuit  

Bonne nuit literally method “Good night” and also is offered the same way as in English. It can be claimed to anyone, and also is the easiest, most straightforward nighttime farewell.

That said, be certain not to confuse it with Bonne soirée – an excellent evening. If “Good evening” in English is a an extremely formal expression, often associated with old-school vampires, it’s very common in French. Bonne soirée is provided to end an night or night conversation v anyone the you’re not directly seeing turn off to bed.  

For example, if ns in a grocery keep late at night, I would wish the cashier Bonne soirée (and they would carry out the same to me) because they’re not in front of me in their pajamas, and also I’m not staying at your house and also aware that 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 to our bedrooms come sleep, I would certainly wish lock Bonne nuit.

2. Dors bien

Meaning “sleep well,” dors bien can likewise be offered in the imperative type with vous: Dormez bien. But this would probably average you’re talk to many people, no that she addressing someone in a officially context, since, in most situations at least, this expression often tends to reflect a particular tenderness and also closeness. I could see utilizing it with someone you don’t know really well, however, if you’ve to be talking around sleep and it’s late and you know they’ll sleep in a couple of hours.

For example, if mine baker tells me she been having trouble sleeping, and also the boulangerie is about to close because that the evening, relying on the emotion of the conversation, I could say Dormez bien as I leave. However mostly, it’s used with world close come you, or v 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 yes, really love exactly how the French version means that the sleeper can create their very own dreams. It’s type of inspiring, in a way. The course, anytime I have a nightmare or something monster or awkward occur in a dream, I choose it less….

This is another expression the would normally be provided with who you’re near with, no in a formal situation. If you offered it v vous (Faites de beaux rêves) the would most likely be to address multiple people, not in a official context.

So, basically, 2 of the three typical ways to say goodnight in French are scheduled for civilization you’re nearby with. When in doubt, use Bonne nuit.

Some other sleep-related French expressions and also vocabulary


Of course, “Goodnight” is only the beginning. What if you desire to talk about how girlfriend sleep or slept, what sort of sleeper friend are, or what kind of night friend had? here are part words and also expressions to assist 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 tried to define Rousseau’s functions to me, i was too worn down 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’re a restless sleeper – I’m such a heavy sleeper the you won’t wake up me up.)

Bien dormir

To sleep well.

We experienced this previously in the command form; you’ll likewise often hear the 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 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 much more charming if, unlike me, you actually reap sleeping outside. Example : Malgré le froid, nous étions contents 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 space a number of fun methods to express the you’ve slept well. 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 ns slept favor 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 small room, we were sleeping favor dormice.)

Dormir debout

To it is in falling asleep standing up.

Example: Je dors debout – je vais aller me coucher. (I’m falling asleep standing increase – ns going to walk to bed.) Be mindful not to confuse this with the expression à dormir debout, which method something that is ridiculous and also 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 certainly the idea here! Example : Après avoir acheté un nouveau matelas, sylvie a dormi d’un sommeil de plomb. (After to buy a brand-new mattress, sylvie slept like a stone.)

Dormir sous les ponts

To sleep ~ above the streets.

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

Être crevé(e)

An informal way to say someone is fully exhausted, worn out, beat. Example: Je n’en peux plus – je suis crevé ! (I can’t execute anymore – ns worn out!). Crever is an interesting word. The essentially method “to burst”, yet in informal language it can represent exhaustion or even death. 

Faire la grasse matinée

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

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

Faire dodo

A childish way 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, that time to walk 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 tho takes a nap.)/J’ai sommeil – je vais faire une petite sieste. (I’m sleepy – i’m going to take it a small nap.)

Un manque de sommeil

A absence of sleep.

This can also be supplied 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, fifty percent the French population is experiencing 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, view the section on sleep-related characters.

Métro, boulot, dodo

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

Ne dormir que d’un œil

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

Example : Malgré la fatigue, je n’ai dormi que d’un œil. (I slept through one eye open despite 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 simpler if she no a night person.)

Un oiseau de nuit

Another word for a night person/night owl, often with the implication the this human likes to invest the night at parties and also clubs.  

Passer une nuit blanche

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

This can 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 trouble concentrating today; last night we all gained together at Denis’s house and ended up staying up every night.), or it have the right 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 she in Paris in beforehand October. Every year approximately this time, yes one night whereby a lot of various events (mostly concerts and art installations) take ar throughout the city, native dark until dawn. The frequently surreal ambiance renders it feel like you’re in a dream. 

Piquer un somme

An informal method to to speak “to take it 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 remaining up every night — let’s go take a nap.)

Qui dort dîne

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

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

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


To snore.

Example : Tu ronfles si ft que je peux t’entendre de l’autre bout de la maison ! (You snore therefore loudly the I have the right to hear you every the method 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 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 two most common sleep-related verbs in French — and a significant faux pas you have the right to make with them


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

They deserve to be provided interchangeably in numerous cases yet be careful if you’re talking around sleeping v someone/something!  

In English, the expression “sleep with” have the right to be completely innocent – because that example, “I sleep v the irradiate on,” or “She sleeps with her teddy bear.” but if the context no clear, it generally takes ~ above a sex-related connotation. The exact same is the situation for coucher. 

In fact, there are a number of expressions v coucher that imply a human is doing much 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 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, however he sleeps around.)

But coucher doesn’t just indicate sexual intercourse. There are countless ways to use this word the don’t indicate that in ~ all. Some usual non-sexy sleep words pertained to 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 go to bed early, it’s finest not come sleep in ~ Francoise’s. She has actually a studio apartment and also is a night owl.)

Un sac de couchage

A sleeping bag.

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

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

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

Sleep-related French characters

Just about every society has that is myths and beliefs around sleep. Choose several that them, French has actually le marchand de sable (sand merchant – Sandman in English). This is a man who sprinkles sand come make civilization (especially children) close your 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 eyes after sleep goes ago much further.

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Although I’ve claimed the French aren’t as sleep-focused as some other cultures are, castle are additionally at the beginning of yet an additional famous sleeper: La belle au bois dormant– resting Beauty. With roots in middle ages French folktales, the version of her story that us know ideal today has its beginnings in a 17th century assimilated by Charles Perrault.

Talking about sleep in French can involve some imaginative and really accurate vocabulary. How perform you enhance up through French sleep statistics? deserve to you use some of these words and phrases to explain how friend sleep?