How to Talk About Sleep in French: The Ultimate Guide

Did you know you spend about one third of your time sleeping?

Since sleep is such a significant part of your life, it’s a good idea to know how to talk about it in French.

In this post, we’ll show you how to say goodnight, discuss quality of sleep, talk about sleeping habits and more in French.


How to Say Sleep in French

Le Sommeil — Sleep (Noun) 

As opposed to English, where “sleep” is both a noun and a verb, French has two different words for sleep. 

Le sommeil is the noun version of the word and is used to talk about it as sleep itself. 

While you may not see le sommeil used as frequently as dormir, it’s important to know the difference.

Tu as besoin de sommeil(You need some sleep.)

Elle perd le sommeil à cause du bruit. (She’s losing sleep because of the noise.)

Le sommeil est le meilleur remède. (Sleep is the best medicine.)

Dormir — To Sleep (Verb)

This is probably the word that you will see the most when talking about sleeping in French. 

This is the verb version, which is used to talk about the actual act of sleeping.

Since it is a verb, you will need to conjugate it according to the subject, tense and mood.

Je dors beaucoup après que je travaille. (I sleep a lot after I work.)

As-tu dormis dans mon lit ? (Did you sleep in my bed?)

Nous allons dormir avant la fête. (We’re going to sleep before the party.)

How to Conjugate Dormir

To help you along, here are the conjugations of dormir in the simple present, past and future tenses:

SubjectPresent TenseSimple Past TenseSimple Future Tense
JeDorsJ'ai dormiDormirai
TuDorsTu as dormiDormiras
Il/Elle/OnDortIl/Elle/On a dormiDormira
NousDormonsNous avons dormiDormirons
VousDormezVous avez dormiDormirez
Ils/EllesDormentIls/Elles ont dormiDormiront

Preparing for Sleep in French

Sleep doesn’t just happen. You probably have your own bedtime routine or people to whom you say “good night.” Here are some phrases you might use as your eyes begin to grow heavy:

  • Être fatigué(e) To be tired
  • Être épuisé(e) To be exhausted
  • Avoir sommeil To be sleepy
  • Bonne nuit Good night
  • Fais de beaux rêves Sweet dreams
  • BonsoirGood evening
  • Dors bienSleep well 


Bonne nuit, maman. Je vais me coucher. (Goodnight, mom. I’m going to bed.)

Es-tu fatigué ? (Are you tired?)

Oui, j’étais épuisé après l’examen cet après-midi. Et maintenant j’ai sommeil. (Yes, I was exhausted after the exam this afternoon. And now I’m sleepy.)

Bien sûr. Fais de beaux rêves. (Of course. Sweet dreams.)

Going to Sleep in French

These phrases describe actions associated with entering the state of sleep:

  • Dormir To sleep
  • Se coucher— To go to bed
  • Faire dodo — To go night-night
  • Fermer les yeux To close the eyes
  • S’endormirTo fall asleep


Son but est de dormir au moins huit heures chaque nuit. (Her goal is to sleep at least eight hours each night.)

Donc, son fils doit faire dodo à vingt heures trente. (Therefore, her son needs to go night-night at 8:30.)

Après cela, elle lit ou regarde la télé et se couche à vingt-deux heures. (After that, she reads or watches TV and goes to bed at 10.)

Elle ferme les yeux et s’endort d’habitude avant vingt-trois heures. (She closes her eyes and usually falls asleep before 11.)

Waking Up in French

Sooner or later, you’ll have to get up, so here’s how to talk about it:

  • Un réveilAn alarm clock
  • Se réveiller — To wake up
  • Se lever — To rise, get up
  • Se lever tôt — To get up early
  • Se lever tard — To get up late
  • Faire la grasse matinéeTo sleep in


D’habitude, mon réveil sonne à sept heures et je dois me lever tout de suite. (Usually, my alarm clock goes off at seven and I need to get up right away.)

Mais le week-end, je fais la grasse matinée. (But on the weekend, I sleep in.)

Quand je me réveille, je peux lire ou regarder la télé avant de me lever. (When I wake up, I can read or watch TV before getting up.)

If you want to see some of these words and phrases in action, try listening to native speakers as much as possible. 

FluentU is a great option to do this from home if you don’t have access to a French speaker. The language learning program allows you to watch authentic French videos with native speakers, using the language as they do in real life. 

You can search sleep-related vocabulary in the video dictionary and find plenty of videos that use this vocab in different contexts. Plus, you’ll even get interactive subtitles and other tools to aid your learning. 

FluentU is available on iOS and Android

Describing Sleep in French

Sleep is a common component of small talk, right up there with the weather. Here’s how to get ready for the inevitable question:

  • Comment avez-vous dormi ? — How did you sleep? (formal)
  • Comment as-tu dormi ? — How did you sleep? (informal)
  • Bien dormir To sleep well
  • Mal dormir— To sleep badly
  • Dormir d’un sommeil de plomb — To sleep like a stone
  • Un rêveA dream
  • Un cauchemar A nightmare


Bonjour. Comment as-tu dormi ? (Good morning. How did you sleep?)

J’ai mal dormi. J’ai fait un cauchemar. Et toi ? (I slept badly. I had a nightmare. And you?)

Je suis désolé. Moi, j’ai dormi d’un sommeil de plomb ! (I’m sorry. Me, I slept like a stone!)

Naps and Resting in French

Sometimes the nightly zzzz’s just aren’t enough. Here are some words to describe naps and other forms of resting:

  • Une siesteA nap
  • Se reposer To rest
  • Se détendreTo relax
  • S’apaiser — To calm down
  • Une pauseA break


Elle ne peut pas faire une sieste chaque jour. (She can’t take a nap every day.)

Mais le samedi elle prend une pause du travail et des études. (But on Saturdays she takes a break from work and studies.)

Elle boit du thé pour se détendre et elle se repose la plupart de la journée. (She drinks some tea to relax and she rests most of the day.)

Parfois, elle fait un somme. (Sometimes, she takes a nap.)

Places to Sleep in French

Hopefully you sleep in a bed most nights, but what about if you’re camping or traveling? Here are some sleep location words to build your vocabulary:

  • Un litA bed
  • Un canapé A couch
  • Une couchette A bunk
  • Un wagon-lit A sleeping car
  • Un sac de couchage A sleeping bag
  • Dormir à la belle étoileTo sleep outdoors


Bien sûr, on dort dans un lit presque tout le temps. (Of course, we almost always sleep in a bed.)

Mais de temps en temps, je m’endors sur le canapé pendant un film. (But occasionally, I fall asleep on the couch during a movie.)

L’année dernière, on a pris le train en Russie et on passait les nuits dans le wagon-lit. (Last year, we took the train in Russia and we spent the nights in the sleeping car.)

Quand on fait du camping, c’est génial de prendre un sac de couchage et de dormir à la belle étoile. (When we go camping, it’s great to take a sleeping bag and sleep under the stars.)


Feeling sleepy yet?

Whether you’re ready for a nap now or have a full day ahead, you’re now equipped to talk all about sleep in French.

Sleep on, French learners.

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