Sleep in French: The Ultimate Guide of Phrases and Vocabulary [Plus Pronunciation]
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
- Sleep Phrases in French
- More Important Sleep Vocabulary
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How to Say Sleep in French
Dormir — To sleep (Verb)
As opposed to English, where “sleep” is both a noun and a verb, French has two different words for sleep.
The verb dormir will most likely be the word that you’ll see the most when talking about sleeping in French. It’s used to talk about the act of sleeping.
Since it’s a verb, you’ll 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 dormi 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
Here are the conjugations of dormir in the simple present, past and future tenses:
|Subject||Present Tense||Simple Past Tense||Simple Future Tense|
|Tu||Dors||Tu as dormi||Dormiras|
|Il/Elle/On||Dort||Il/Elle/On a dormi||Dormira|
|Nous||Dormons||Nous avons dormi||Dormirons|
|Vous||Dormez||Vous avez dormi||Dormirez|
|Ils/Elles||Dorment||Ils/Elles ont dormi||Dormiront|
Le sommeil — Sleep (Noun)
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 and when to use them.
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.)
Sleep Phrases in French
Fais de beaux rêves — Sweet dreams
In English, when saying good night to a family member or someone you care about just before they go to sleep, a caring way to wish them a good night is to say “Sweet dreams!”
In French, “Sweet dreams” is Fais de beaux rêves.
Bonne nuit. Fais de beaux rêves. (Good night. Sweet dreams.)
Dors bien — Sleep well
Another way of saying “Sweet dreams” in French is Dors bien which translates directly into English as “Sleep well.”
You can use this in the same situations as Fais de beaux rêves. As in English, the difference between the two phrases is often related to personal preference.
Je dois travailler demain. C’est l’heure de dormir. Bonne nuit ! (I’ve got to work tomorrow. It’s time to sleep. Good night!)
Dors bien ! (Sleep well!)
S’endormir — To fall asleep
As in English, there are a number of verbs to describe the different stages of sleep in French.
Dormir is used to say “to sleep”; however, if you want to say “to fall asleep,” you can use the reflexive verb s’endormir.
Elle ferme les yeux et s’endort d’habitude avant vingt-trois heures. (She closes her eyes and usually falls asleep before 11.)
Faire dodo — To go night-night
Faire dodo is mostly used in French when talking to children about going to sleep. Faire means “to do” and dodo is a shortened version of dormir (to sleep).
Faire dodo is like saying the phrases “to go night-night” or “to go to beddy-byes” in English.
Son fils doit faire dodo à vingt heures trente. (Her son needs to go night-night at 8:30.)
Comment as-tu dormi ? — How did you sleep?
In many countries around the world, it’s common to ask another person how they slept when you greet them in the morning.
In French, the most popular way to ask this is to say Comment as-tu dormir ? Note that this uses the informal version of “you.”
Bonjour. Comment as-tu dormi ? (Good morning. How did you sleep?)
Bien/mal dormir — To sleep well/badly
When asked Comment as-tu dormi ? (How did you sleep?) the most common response in both French and English is to say that you have slept well or badly.
To reply, you need the verb dormir (to sleep) and the adverbs bien (well) or mal (badly).
J’ai mal dormi. J’ai fait un cauchemar. (I slept badly. I had a nightmare.)
Dormir d’un sommeil de plomb — To sleep like a stone
In English, if we have a very good deep, uninterrupted sleep without disruptions, we say that we “slept like a log.”
However, to describe this kind of sleep in French, you don’t say that you slept like a log, but instead a stone!
Je suis désolé. Moi, j’ai dormi d’un sommeil de plomb ! (I’m sorry. Me, I slept like a stone!)
As you can see, in French there are many different phrases used to talk about sleep. 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 such as transcripts to further aid your learning.
FluentU is available on iOS and Android.
More Important Sleep Vocabulary
As well as knowing common sleep phrases, it’s also important to learn French sleep vocabulary, such as “good night,” “to go to bed,” “to get up early/late” and “an alarm clock.”
- Être fatigué/fatiguée — To be tired
- Être épuisé/épuisée — To be exhausted
- Avoir sommeil — To be sleepy
- Une sieste — A nap
- Se reposer — To rest
- Se détendre — To relax
- S’apaiser — To calm down
- Une pause — A break
- Bonne nuit — Good night
- Bonsoir — Good evening
- Se coucher — To go to bed
- Fermer les yeux — To close the eyes
- Un réveil — An 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 matinée — To sleep in
- Comment avez-vous dormi ? — How did you sleep? (formal)
- Un rêve — A dream
- Un cauchemar — A nightmare
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.