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English Sleep Vocabulary / Talking about Sleep in English (Includes GIFS, Pictures, & Practice Qs)


Recommended level: Intermediate


You have probably heard this fact before: Humans spend approximately one-third of their life sleeping. This might not be the case for you if you only sleep five or six hours per night, but it is the case for the majority of people on Earth. Because we spend so much time in bed, we also spend a lot of time talking about sleep. It's a universal human activity, so this makes perfect sense.


The purpose of this page is to boost your English vocabulary and conversation skills by sharing some of the most common words, sentences, phrases, and questions that people ask about sleep. So, please, don't fall asleep! Stay awake and read on!


This English vocabulary reference is sorted by relevant categories. You can scroll down and read what is most interesting or useful to you. Here we go...


The basics


Talking about a person's bedtime and their sleep process

"When" and "What time" are used interchangeably to ask about the time someone does something. "What time" is more specific, but people understand "when" in the same way in all of the following cases.


General sleep habits (present simple--commonly used with the words "usually" and "normally")

"What time do you usually go to bed?"

"When do you usually get to bed?"

"What time do you normally go to sleep?"

-----

"I usually go to bed at 10 o'clock."

"I usually get to bed around 11."

"I normally go to sleep between 11 and midnight."



"How long does it normally take you to fall asleep?" (to start sleeping--from the moment you lie down in bed to the moment you are not awake anymore)

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"It takes me around 15 minutes to fall asleep."

"It takes me almost an hour to fall asleep."

"I usually fall asleep in 10 minutes or less."



"How late do you usually stay up?" (to remain awake and not go to one's bed even when it's probably a good idea to go to sleep)

"Do you go to bed at a reasonable hour, or do you stay up (late)?" ("a reasonable hour" is a good and/or healthy time to go to sleep)

-----

"I usually stay up until midnight."

"I don't stay up too late." / "I don't like to stay up late."

"I go to bed at a good time." / "I go to bed at a reasonable hour."

"I go to bed early." / "I go to bed late."


"Do you usually sleep through the night?"

"Do you wake up in the middle of the night?"

"Do you get enough sleep?"

-----

"Once I'm asleep, I sleep through the (whole) night."

"I wake up at least once in the middle of the night."

"I usually get enough sleep." / "I don't get enough sleep."

"I need to sleep more." / "I need to get more sleep."


Past night's sleep (past simple)

"When did you go to bed last night?"

"When did you get to bed last night?"

"What time did you go to sleep last night?"

"What time did you fall asleep last night?" (see above for meaning)

"How long did it take you to fall asleep?"

"How late did you stay up last night?" / "Did you stay up late last night?"

-----

"I went to bed late last night."

"I got to bed at 1am." / "I didn't get to bed until 1am!"

"I went to sleep around 11." / "I didn't go to sleep until around 11." (eleven)

"I fell asleep around 10:30." / "I didn't fall asleep until around 10:30." (ten-thirty)

"It took me over an hour to fall asleep."

"I stayed up until midnight." / "I didn't stay up that late. I went to bed at 10."



"Did you sleep through the night?"

"Did you wake up in the middle of the night?"

"Did you have a good sleep?" / "Did you have a good night's sleep?"

"Did you sleep well?" / "Did you sleep okay?"

"How did you sleep (last night)?" / "How did you sleep?"

"Did you get enough sleep (last night)?"

-----

"Yeah, I slept through the (whole) night." / "No, I didn't sleep well. I kept waking up."

"I woke up at least three times last night."

"Yes, I had a good sleep." / "No, I didn't have a good sleep."

"I had a good night's sleep." / "No, I didn't have a good night's sleep."

"I slept well." / "I slept okay." "I didn't sleep well." / "I slept poorly."

"I didn't sleep well. My neighbour's dog kept me up all night!" (I couldn't sleep because my neighbour's dog was noisy/barking all night.)

"Yeah, I got enough sleep." / "No, I didn't get enough sleep."


Other tenses and common language

"How have you been sleeping lately?"

"Have you been getting enough sleep?"

"What time are you going to get to bed?"

"Are you awake?" / "Are you sleeping?" / "Are you asleep?" (asked to someone who is lying down and looks like they might be sleeping)

-----

"I haven't been sleeping well (lately/recently/these days...)."

"I haven't been getting enough sleep (lately/recently/these days...)."

"I want to get to bed early tonight."

"I'm going to bed early tonight."

"I'm still awake."

"I'm falling asleep." (I'm almost asleep. You can say this if you are bored by something, too.)

Practice

When do you normally get to bed?


How long does it usually take you to fall asleep?


Do you usually sleep through the night, or do you wake up in the middle of the night?


What time did you go to sleep last night?


How did you sleep?



Talking about a person's wake-up time and wake-up process

General wake-up habits

"What time do you usually wake up (in the morning)?"

"When do you normally get out of bed?"

"What time do you usually roll out of bed in the morning?" (idiomatic, informal)

-----

"I usually wake up at 6 a.m."

"Normally, I get up around 5:30." (five-thirty / half past six)

"I usually get out of bed between 6:45 and 7." (six-forty-five and seven)

"I roll out of bed at 6:30." (six-thirty / half past six)



"Do you sleep in on weekends?" ("Sleep in" means "to stay in bed and sleep past one's regular bed time, typically by choice." If you normally wake up at 6am, but on the weekend you sleep later because you want to, you "sleep in.")

"How often do you oversleep?" ("Oversleep" means to sleep longer and not to wake up at the time you intended. If you "oversleep," it's always by accident, whereas you can "sleep in" on purpose or by chance.)

-----

"I like to sleep in on Sundays." / "I rarely sleep in."

"I never oversleep. I get out of bed as soon as my alarm goes off." (When an alarm "goes off," it means it activates! Funny, isn't it?)


Past wake-up time

"When did you wake up?"

"When did you get up today?"

"What time did you get out of bed this morning?"

"What time did you roll out of bed this morning?" (idiomatic, informal)

-----

"I woke up late today." / "I woke up early today."

"I got up 30 minutes early today." (thirty)

"I got out of bed at 6:30." (six-thirty)

"I didn't roll out of bed until 7:30." (seven-thirty)


"Did you sleep in?"

"Did you oversleep?"

-----

"I slept in." / "I slept in until 10 o'clock." (ten)

"Sorry for being late. I overslept."


Other tenses and common language

"I want to wake up early tomorrow." / "I want to get up early tomorrow."

"I've been getting out of bed late (these days/this week/etc.)."

"I'm going to try to get up early tomorrow."

"Are you going to sleep in tomorrow?"

"I want to sleep in tomorrow." / "I'm going to sleep in tomorrow."

Practice

Do you have an alarm? What time does it go off in the morning?


When do you normally get up in the morning?


Do you ever sleep in?


When did you get out of bed today?


When was the last time you overslept?



Idioms to talk about sleep

a heavy sleeper

someone who is hard to wake up once they are asleep

"Sometimes, my alarm clock doesn't wake me up. I'm a really heavy sleeper."

"I hope you're a heavy sleeper because this neighbourhood can be really noisy at night."


a light sleeper

someone who can be woken up easily once they are asleep; someone who is sensitive to sound and motion and wakes up quickly when they hear or feel something

"My mom uses earplugs because she's a light sleeper."

"I think I'm a light sleeper because I wake up at least twice a night."


get some shuteye

get some sleep

"We have to be up early tomorrow. Let's get some shuteye."

"I need to get some shuteye."


hit the hay / hit the sack

go to sleep

"Good night, everybody. I'm exhausted. Time for me to hit the hay."

"Where's Jim?" "Oh, he hit the sack an hour ago."


out like a light

asleep or unconscious (usually used with the verb "to be")

"Don't go into Terra's room. She's already out like a light."

"Drink a cup of this tea, and you'll be out like a light in no time." ("in no time" means "very quickly")


pull an all-nighter

stay awake all night (usually because you are studying or working on something urgent)

"She had to pull an all-nighter to finish her essay."

"I might have to pull an all-nighter to finish this project on time."


sleep like a baby / log / rock

sleep very well without waking up in the middle of the night

"Once he falls asleep, he sleeps like a baby."

"She's sleeping like a log."

"I slept like a rock last night."


toss and turn

move around in bed a lot while trying to fall asleep; have a restless sleep

"I tossed and turned all night. I couldn't fall asleep no matter what I did."

"She was tossing and turning all night. I think she only slept for 3 hours or so."


turn in

go to sleep (common extension: "turn in for the night")

"It's been a long day. I think I'm going to turn in for the night."

"You look exhausted. You should probably turn in for the night."


up at the crack of dawn

awake and out of bed at the same time as the sun rises; awake very early (common extensions: "get up at the crack of dawn" / "wake up at the crack of dawn" / "get out of bed at the crack of dawn")

"My grandma always got up at the crack of dawn."

"I've been up since the crack of dawn."


Practice

Are you a light sleeper?


Do you know anyone who's a heavy sleeper?


Do you ever wake up at the crack of dawn?


Have you ever pulled an all-nighter?


Do you usually fall asleep quickly, or do you toss and turn for a long time?


Well, there's only one thing left to say: Sweet dreams and good night!

Thank you for learning English with me! I hope this page was useful for you. If you enjoyed the experience and you would like to continue improving your English--and supporting my work at the same time--please consider purchasing one of my books. If you enjoyed the idioms on this page, I recommend my second book, 200 Practical English Idioms.

Until next time, I wish you success with your studies!

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