We regularly think the the French as masters of living well, with terrific 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 trouble that you’ll find in most occurred countries: As a current story ~ above the news show Zone Interdite revealed, about 50% of French world say they nothing get enough sleep.

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It mostly comes down to the same problem lots of us roughly the civilization may have – remaining up late online or on the phone, or gift woken increase or disturbed by among our precious associated devices. An additional common sleep struggle among the French could be simply as relatable to you: sleeping with a pet. I deserve to personally attest come the fact that even a generally lazy cat will certainly wake you increase at the very least once or twice at night. According to this study, an approximated 16% the French people would agree with me.

As i have thought around sleep in France, I’ve also realized that, back France has actually a call for being a location 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 the siesta. The midday rest in France is more dedicated to savoring a great meal than to sleeping.  

Still, the French, prefer just about 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 it polite or kind to wish someone a an excellent night’s sleep; native the statistics i’ve shared, it’s most likely the French human being you’re talk to really requirements it!

Here room some methods to talk about sleep in French, starting with exactly how to great someone a an excellent night. 


If you desire to wish someone “Good night” in French, your an easy choices are an extremely limited. (This said, If you want to acquire creative, an net search because that “Comment souhaiter bonne nuit” leads to some interesting results, choose this list of text messages to send your missing sweetheart.)

Here are the 3 most typical ways to great someone goodnight in French:

1. Bonne nuit  

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

That said, be certain not to confused it v Bonne soirée – good evening. If “Good evening” in English is a an extremely formal expression, often associated with old-school vampires, it’s an extremely common in French. Bonne soirée is used to finish an night or night conversation v anyone the you’re not straight seeing off to bed.  

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

On the other hand, if i’m at mine in-laws’ house and we’re all going come our bedrooms come sleep, I would certainly wish castle 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 average you’re talking to multiple people, no that you addressing someone in a formal context, since, in most instances at least, this expression often tends to reflect a certain tenderness and also closeness. I can see making use of it with someone you don’t know really well, however, if you’ve been talking around sleep and also it’s late and also you know they’ll sleep in a few hours.

For example, if my baker speak me she’s been having trouble sleeping, and also the boulangerie is around to close for the evening, relying on the emotion of the conversation, I can say Dormez bien together I leave. But mostly, it’s used with human being close come you, or through 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 indistinguishable to the English expression “Sweet dreams.”  

I yes, really love exactly how the French version suggests that the sleeper can produce their own dreams. It’s sort of inspiring, in a way. Of course, whenever I have a nightmare or something monster or awkward take place in a dream, I prefer it less….

This is an additional expression that would typically be supplied with someone you’re close with, not in a officially situation. If you used it with vous (Faites de beaux rêves) the would probably be to address multiple people, no in a officially context.

So, basically, two of the three typical ways come say goodnight in French are scheduled for people you’re near with. When in doubt, usage 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 you sleep or slept, what kind of sleeper friend are, or what type of night you had? below are part words and also expressions to aid with that:

Avoir sommeil

To be 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, i was too tired to listen.)

Avoir le sommeil agité/lourd/léger

To be 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 issue if you a restless sleeper – I’m such a heavy sleeper the you won’t wake me up.)

Bien dormir

To sleep well.

We saw this previously in the imperative form; you’ll additionally often hear that in the passé composé, when people 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 favor the beautiful star”. This is even an ext charming if, unequal me, girlfriend actually enjoy sleeping outside. Example : Malgré le froid, nous étions materials 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 variety of fun methods to express that you’ve slept well. below 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 yet in our little room, us were sleeping prefer dormice.)

Dormir debout

To be falling sleep standing up.

Example: Je dors debout – je vais aller me coucher. (I’m falling asleep standing increase – i’m going to go to bed.) Be mindful not to confuse this through the expression à dormir debout, which method 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 because that lead, so heavy is absolutely the idea here! Example : Après avoir acheté un nouveau matelas, sylvie a dormi d’un sommeil de plomb. (After buying a new mattress, silver slept choose a stone.)

Dormir sous les ponts

To sleep top top the streets.

Literally, this method “to sleep under the bridges”, which many homeless civilization in Paris go in bygone days, and sometimes tho do. Example : Depuis qu’il a perdu tout boy argent, Jacques dort sous les ponts. (Ever because losing his money, Jacques has slept on the streets.)

Être crevé(e)

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

Faire la grasse matinée

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

Literally translated, this expression way “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 pertained to breakfast at the restaurant tomorrow; they’re planning to sleep in.)

Faire dodo

A childish means to say “go to 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 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 quiet takes a nap.)/J’ai sommeil – je vais faire une petite sieste. (I’m sleepy – i’m going to take a small nap.)

Un manque de sommeil

A absence of sleep.

This can additionally 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 enduring from a absence of sleep.)

Le marchand de sable est passé

The Sandman come by.

In other words, someone/everyone has fallen asleep. For much more on the marchand de sable, view the ar 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, come sleep lightly so as to be conscious of your surroundings.

Example : Malgré la fatigue, je n’ai dormi que d’un œil. (I slept v 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 regularly wondered if she life would certainly be simpler if she wasn’t a night person.)

Un oiseau de nuit

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

Passer une nuit blanche

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

This deserve to be a choice: J’ai du mal à me concentrer aujourd’hui ; on 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; critical night we all got together in ~ Denis’s house and ended up continuing to be up every night.), or it deserve to be involuntary: J’étais tellement inquiète que j’ai passé une nuit blanche.  (I to be so worried that i couldn’t sleep.)

You might additionally see the expression Nuit Blanche if you in Paris in at an early stage October. Every year about this time, yes sir one night wherein a lot of of various events (mostly concerts and also art installations) take location throughout the city, indigenous dark till dawn. The commonly surreal ambiance makes it feel choose you’re in a dream. 

Piquer un somme

An informal method to say “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 walk take a nap.)

Qui dort dîne

He/She that sleeps, eats. In other words, when 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, once I was a college student in Paris, i rented a room in one elderly French couple’s house. The man frequently 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 who 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 for this reason loudly that I deserve to hear you every the means across the house!)

Un/une somnambule

A sleepwalker.

If you speak to someone a sleepwalker, nothing forget the ascendancy 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 issue if you hear footsteps in the hallway this evening – Charles is a sleepwalker.)

Sleepy vs sexy: The 2 most typical sleep-related verb in French — and also a major faux pas you can make with them


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

They deserve to be provided interchangeably in plenty of cases but be mindful if you talking around sleeping with someone/something!  

In English, the expression “sleep with” deserve to be entirely innocent – for example, “I sleep through the irradiate on,” or “She sleeps v her teddy bear.” but if the context no clear, it commonly takes top top a sex-related connotation. The exact same is the situation for coucher. 

In fact, there space a variety of expressions with coucher that suggest 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 didn’t know? They’ve been resting together because that at the very least a year.)

Coucher pour 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 resting 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 seems prudish, but he sleeps around.)

But coucher no just suggest sexual intercourse. There are plenty of ways to usage this word that don’t imply that in ~ all. Some common 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 walk to bed early, it’s best not to sleep at Francoise’s. She has actually a studio apartment and is a night owl.)

Un sac de couchage

A resting bag.

Apart from these expressions, though, if you want to be specific you’re making use of coucher in an chaste sense, execute it as a reflex verb. because that example, Je me couche toujours à 23h. (I constantly 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 want to talk about someone resting with someone/something in a completely innocent way? In this case, use dormir avec.  

For example, previously in this article, I pointed out that i 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 certainly be in ~ my door, since bestiality is illegal in France!  

Sleep-related French characters

Just about every culture has that is myths and also beliefs around sleep. Prefer several that them, French has actually le marchand de sable (sand merchant – Sandman in English). This is a male who sprinkles sand come make human being (especially children) close your eyes and fall asleep. The personality originated in an early 19th century story through Hoffmann, butt the idea of sand being in one’s eye after sleep goes ago much further.

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Although I’ve claimed the French aren’t as sleep-focused as part other cultures are, castle are likewise at the origin of yet one more famous sleeper: La belle au bois dormant– sleeping Beauty. V roots in middle ages French folktales, the variation of her story that us know finest today has its origins in a 17th century assimilated by Charles Perrault.

Talking around sleep in French have the right to involve some imaginative and very accurate vocabulary. How execute you complement up v French sleep statistics? deserve to you use few of these words and also phrases to define how girlfriend sleep?