We frequently think that the French as masters of life well, with great cuisine, many vacation days, and also a general joie de vivre. Yet like most stereotypes, this one isn’t exactly true. For one thing, the French have actually a difficulty that you’ll find in most arisen countries: As a recent story ~ above the news present Zone Interdite revealed, about 50% that French civilization say they nothing get sufficient sleep.

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It greatly comes down to the same concern lots that us approximately the world may have actually – remaining up late virtual or on the phone, or being woken up or disturbed by one of our precious connected devices. Another common sleep struggle amongst the French could be just as relatable to you: resting with a pet. I deserve to personally attest come the reality that even a typically lazy cat will wake you up at least once or twice at night. Follow to this study, an approximated 16% of French civilization would agree with me.

As i’ve thought about sleep in France, I’ve additionally realized that, back France has actually a reputation for being a place where people live well and take their time, sleep doesn’t have the important function that it does in countries like Spain. There is no traditional concept of siesta. The midday break 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 ways of talking about sleep, and also these terms and expressions are beneficial to learn. After all, not just is that polite or kind to wish someone a good night’s sleep; indigenous the statistics i have shared, it’s most likely the French person you’re talking to really requirements it!

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

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

Here are the three most usual ways to great someone goodnight in French:

1. Bonne nuit  

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

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

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

On the various other hand, if i’m at my in-laws’ house and also we’re all going come our bedrooms to sleep, I would certainly wish castle 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 probably typical you’re talk to multiple people, not that you addressing someone in a officially context, since, in most instances at least, this expression often tends to reflect a specific tenderness and also closeness. I might see utilizing it v someone you don’t know very well, however, if you’ve been talking around sleep and also it’s late and also you understand they’ll sleep in a few hours.

For example, if mine baker speak me she been having actually trouble sleeping, and also the boulangerie is around to close for the evening, depending upon the emotion of the conversation, I can say Dormez bien together I leave. But mostly, it’s supplied with people close come you, or v someone in a vulnerable situation (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 suggests that the sleeper can develop their very own dreams. It’s sort of inspiring, in a way. Of course, anytime I have actually a nightmare or something weird or awkward take place in a dream, I prefer it less….

This is another expression the would normally be supplied with who you’re close with, not in a formal situation. If you provided it with vous (Faites de beaux rêves) the would probably be to address multiple people, not in a formal context.

So, basically, 2 of the three usual ways to say goodnight in French are booked for people you’re nearby with. As soon as 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 around how friend sleep or slept, what kind of sleeper you are, or what kind of night friend had? here are some words and 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 to water l’écouter. (Hard as he tried to define Rousseau’s works to me, ns was too tired to listen.)

Avoir le sommeil agité/lourd/léger

To it is in 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’re a restless sleeper – I’m together a hefty sleeper the you won’t wake up me up.)

Bien dormir

To sleep well.

We observed this formerly in the imperative form; you’ll additionally often hear that 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, quite charmingly, “to sleep like the beautiful star”. This is even more charming if, unlike me, you actually gain sleeping outside. Example : Malgré le froid, nous étions components 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 also many other languages, in French, there room a number of fun means 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 great today because i slept prefer a groundhog./Il y avait de l’orage, mais dans notre petite chambre, nous avons dormi comme des loirs. (There to be a storm however in our little room, us were sleeping prefer dormice.)

Dormir debout

To be falling asleep standing up.

Example: Je dors debout – je vais aller me coucher. (I’m falling sleep standing up – i’m going to go to bed.) Be cautious not to confused this v the expression à dormir debout, which means something the 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 hefty is absolutely the idea here! Example : Après avoir acheté un nouveau matelas, silver a dormi d’un sommeil de plomb. (After to buy a new mattress, silver slept favor a stone.)

Dormir sous les ponts

To sleep top top the streets.

Literally, this way “to sleep under the bridges”, which plenty of homeless human being in Paris walk in bygone days, and also sometimes quiet do. Example : Depuis qu’il a perdu tout son 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 method to say someone is completely exhausted, worn out, beat. Example: Je n’en peux to add – je suis crevé ! (I can’t do anymore – ns worn out!). Crever is an amazing word. The essentially method “to burst”, however in not blocked 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 method “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 pertained to breakfast at the restaurant tomorrow; they’re planning to sleep in.)

Faire dodo

A childish way to 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 walk 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 – i’m going to take it a tiny nap.)

Un manque de sommeil

A absence of sleep.

This can likewise be supplied 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, half the French population is experiencing from a lack of sleep.)

Le marchand de sable est passé

The Sandman come by.

In various 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 common expression evokes the daily routine.

Ne dormir que d’un œil

To sleep with one eye open. In other words, to sleep lightly so regarding be mindful of your surroundings.

Example : Malgré la fatigue, je n’ai dormi que d’un œil. (I slept through 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 regularly wondered if her life would certainly be simpler if she no a night person.)

Un oiseau de nuit

Another word because that a night person/night owl, regularly with the implication the 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 can be a choice: J’ai du mal à me concentrer aujourd’hui ; ~ above s’est tous retrouvés pour une soirée chez Denis et finalement ~ above y a passé une nuit blanche. (I’m having trouble concentrating today; critical night we all obtained together in ~ Denis’s house and ended up remaining up all 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 additionally see the expression Nuit Blanche if you in Paris in beforehand October. Every year roughly this time, yes sir one night whereby a many of different events (mostly concerts and also art installations) take ar throughout the city, indigenous dark until dawn. The frequently surreal ambiance makes it feel choose you’re in a dream. 

Piquer un somme

An informal means to say “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 beat after staying up all night — let’s go take a nap.)

Qui dort dîne

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

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

For example, as soon as I to be a college student in Paris, ns 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 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 so loudly the I can hear you all the means across the house!)

Un/une somnambule

A sleepwalker.

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

Sleepy vs sexy: The two most typical sleep-related verbs in French — and also a significant faux pas you have the right to make v them


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

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

In English, the expression “sleep with” deserve to be completely innocent – for example, “I sleep through the light on,” or “She sleeps v her teddy bear.” but if the context isn’t clear, it normally takes top top a sex-related connotation. The same is the situation for coucher. 

In fact, there space a variety of expressions with coucher that suggest 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 resting together for at least a year.)

Coucher pour réussir

To sleep one’s method to the top.

Example : Je me demande si Jeannette mérite vraiment cette promotion, ou si elle a couché pour 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, however he sleeps around.)

But coucher doesn’t just suggest sexual intercourse. There are many ways to use this word that don’t imply that at all. Some common non-sexy sleep words concerned 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 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 details you’re making use of coucher in an chaste sense, carry out it together a reflex verb. for example, Je me couche toujours à 23h. (I constantly go come bed in ~ 11pm.) or Dis donc! Vous vous couchez vachement tard ! (Say, you guys go to bed bloody late!)

But what if you desire to talk about someone sleeping with someone/something in a totally 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 certainly say Je dors avec mon chat. If ns said, Je couche avec mon chat, the police would certainly be in ~ my door, due to the fact that bestiality is illegal in France!  

Sleep-related French characters

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

See more: The Art Of Conversation: How You Talk To A Woman, How To Talk To A Girl

Although I’ve claimed the French aren’t as sleep-focused as part other societies 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 variation of her story that we know finest today has its beginnings in a 17th century fairytale by Charles Perrault.

Talking around sleep in French deserve to involve part imaginative and very accurate vocabulary. How carry out you match up with French sleep statistics? deserve to you use several of these words and phrases to define how girlfriend sleep?