Phrases for talking about sleep in English


This morning, I woke up early and felt sleepy. It made me think about crawling back in bed. And then I started to think of all the ways that you can describe sleeping, going to sleep, waking up, staying awake, and so on:

Going to sleep

  • go to bed 
  • fall asleep
    What's the difference? You "go to bed" on purpose. "Falling asleep" is something that happens to you.
  • go straight to sleep
    This means sleeping immediately after something else, like right when you get home.
  • I'll come tuck you in in a minute.
    You do this for young children: you help them to get comfortable before they go to sleep. 


  • take a nap
    This is sleeping during the daytime.
  • (someone) got a good night's sleep
  • (someone) is passed out
    "Passing out" means going to sleep suddenly and accidentally.
  • a heavy sleeper
    This describes someone who doesn't wake up easily at night. 
  • (someone) sleeps like a baby
    This is a heavy sleep that seems peaceful.
  • (someone) sleeps like a log.
    This is a heavy sleep that seems a bit boring.
  • (someone) snores
    They make noises with their nose while sleeping 
  • (someone) sleeps on (his or her) back
    You can also sleep on your side or on your stomach.
  • I usually get about six hours of sleep a night.

Not sleeping

  • (someone) stayed up late
  • (someone) was tossing and turning all night
    This means moving around a lot in your sleep. 
  • (someone) is a restless sleeper
    This means that you move around a lot and wake up in the middle of the night
  • (someone) has insomnia
    This is the medical name for not being able to sleep well. 
  • pull an all-nighter
    This means staying up all night to work on something or go out.

  •  a night owl
    This is a person who likes to stay up late. 

Waking up

  • (someone) gets to sleep in tomorrow
    Sleep until late in the day. 
  • crawl back in bed
    Go to bed again after waking up. 
  • wake up to an alarm
    This means waking up when the alarm clock rings. 
  • get up at the crack of dawn
    This means waking up as soon as the sun rises.
  • Damn! I overslept!
    This means sleeping too late.
  • Rise and shine!
    Say this to someone as they're waking up. It sounds bright and cheerful.
  • an early bird
    This is someone who wakes up early.

Feeling sleepy

  • (some medicine) makes me drowsy.
    Use this phrase to talk about medicine.
  • I can barely hold my eyes open.
    Say this if you're really sleepy but trying to stay awake.
  • I'm exhausted!
    Say this if you're really tired.

Personally, I've never had much of a problem getting to sleep. I usually fall asleep within a few minutes of going to bed. I do tend to wake up early, though, even when I don't set an alarm.

What about you? How do you sleep? Can you describe it using some of these phrases?

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