Sleep Vocabulary

“Sleep is the best meditation.”

Dalai Lama

According to, one sleeps for one third of one’s life (if the average night’s sleep is 8 hours). As sleep is such an important part of everybody’s life, we just must devote an article to this topic. This time let’s start with a video about 25 interesting facts about sleep. Before you watch, look through the list of key words from the video and make sure you know them.

25 Interesting Facts about Sleep

Key sleep vocabulary:

REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep – REM sleep is a period of sleep that is very deep, during which your eyes and muscles make many small movements;

To act out one’s dreams – to express what you saw in your dreams in your actions;

Waking hours – the hours one spends awake;

Insomnia – habitual sleeplessness; inability to sleep;

Sleepiness – the state of being sleepy;

Drowsiness [‘drauzɪnəs] – a feeling of being sleepy and lethargic [ləθɑːʤɪk]; sleepiness;

To fall asleep – to start to sleep;

Sleep-deprived – (of a person) lacking sleep;

To dream in colour – to see not black-and-white dreams but colour dreams;

To delay sleep – to postpone sleeping.

For more sleep vocabulary, see the table below…


Collocation Example 1 Example 2
Deep sleep She is in a deep sleep. We need to wake him from his deep sleep.
Light sleep I am a light sleeper and the faintest noise can wake me up. As people age, they spend more time each night in light sleep.
To drift off to sleep Before you drift off to sleep, take this pill. Don’t drift off to sleep right before the clock strikes 12. You need to see in the New Year!
To get to sleep Sometimes when you are very tired, you can’t get to sleep quickly. I’ve been trying to get to sleep for an hour!
To go (back) to sleep Now, go back to sleep, honey! When I wake up in the middle of the night, it’s hard for me to go back to sleep.
To cry/sob oneself to sleep Do you ever cry yourself to sleep? If so, you must be a very unhappy person. In this hard time of my life I sometimes sob myself to sleep.
To snatch some sleep My days are so hectic that I can hardly snatch some sleep! I can’t snatch any sleep during the day. I am always at work.
To induce sleep He uses drugs to induce sleep. Soporifics [ˌsɔp(ə)’rɪfɪk] induce sleep.
To lull to sleep Before he knew it, the heat and hum of the forest had lulled him to sleep. The swish of the tyres lulled him into a light doze (a short light sleep).
To lose sleep He’d rather lose sleep than money. No one is losing any sleep over what he thinks of us (= no one worries about it).
To catch up on sleep Try to catch up on sleep during the weekend. I can’t catch up on sleep at the weekend. I’m too busy.
To feign [feɪn] sleep I feigned sleep when the ticket inspector came round. Don’t feign sleep. I know that you’re wide awake (fully awake).
In one’s sleep You were talking in your sleep last night. You sometimes giggle in your sleep.
A lack of sleep You’re nervous from a lack of sleep. A lack of sleep affected her performance.
A wink of sleep Last night I didn’t get a wink of sleep. Try not to think about it or you won’t get a wink of sleep.
A good/poor night’s sleep Make sure you have plenty of time for a good night’s sleep. A poor night’s sleep will affect your capacity for work.

Would you like some more? Here you go…


Sleep like a baby…

Word / phrase Definition Example
Sleepyhead a person, especially a child, who is tired and looks as if they want to sleep Come on, sleepyhead! It’s time to go to bed.
Night owl /ˈnaɪt ˌaʊl/ a person who prefers to be awake and active at night I’m not much of a night owl. So I usually go to bed at 10 p.m.
Early riser a person who gets up early in the morning My wife and I are early risers, usually up by 6.00.
Sleepy tired and almost asleep I was beginning to feel amazingly sleepy.
Drowsy [‘drauzɪ] sleepy and unable to think clearly He felt pleasantly drowsy and had to fight off the urge to sleep.
To sleep in / to oversleep to stay asleep in the morning for longer than you usually do Yesterday, few players turned up because most slept in.
To have a lie-in (British English) to stay asleep in the morning for longer than you usually do I’m not working tomorrow so I can have a bit of a lie-in.
Sleep on it if you are trying to make a decision and you say that you will sleep on it, you mean that you will delay making a decision on it until the following day, so you have time to think about it I will have to sleep on it and see where we are.
Heavy sleeper a person who sleeps deeply and is difficult to wake up I was afraid you’d be a heavy sleeper and I’d have to drag you outside or something.
Fast/sound asleep sleeping deeply Turning over, she was soon sound asleep again.
To get an early night to go to bed before the usual time I’m going to try and get an early night so I don’t oversleep tomorrow.
To nod off to fall asleep, especially briefly or unintentionally I ate a light breakfast and nodded off to asleep again, sleepy from the previous night’s restlessness.
To drop off to fall asleep easily, especially without intending to Once I had the bed made, I quickly dropped off to sleep.
To take/have a nap (catnap) to sleep lightly or briefly, especially during the day Excuse me, I’ll just take a little nap.
To turn in (for the night) to go to bed in the evening Still feeling the impact of my long flight from London, I am keen to turn in.
To sleep like a dog / to be dead to the world to sleep very soundly I slept like a dog, and made it in to the hospital just after 10 this morning.
To yawn [jɔːn] to open the mouth wide and take a lot of air into the lungs and slowly send it out, usually when tired or bored I can’t stop yawning!
Nightmare a frightening or unpleasant dream I had nightmares after watching the horror movie.
To toss and turn to keep moving around in bed not able to sleep properly You feel as if you’ve been tossing and turning all night, and wake up feeling worn out (= extremely tired).

Do you feel a little sleepy now? That’s OK. Have a nap if you can or sleep in on Saturday! We hope you enjoyed the article!



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