Sleep Vocabulary

Sleep Vocabulary

“Sleep is the best meditation.”

Dalai Lama

If the average night’s sleep is 8 hours (i.e. 1/3 of a day), one sleeps for 1/3 of one’s life, and as sleep is such an important part of our life, we just must devote a post to it.

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. For practice, do the exercise at the end of the article.

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 [lə‘θɑːʤɪk]; sleepiness
  • to fall asleep – to start to sleep
  • sleep-deprived – (of a person) lacking sleep
  • to dream in color – to see not black-and-white dreams but color dreams
  • to delay sleep – to postpone sleeping

For more sleep-related vocabulary, see the tables below.

Common Sleep Collocations

CollocationExample 1Example 2
deep sleepThe baby is in a deep sleep.I don’t want to wake his from his deep sleep.
light sleepI 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 sleepBefore 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 sleepSometimes 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 sleepNow, 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 sleepDo 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 sleepMy days are so hectic that I can hardly snatch some sleep!I can’t snatch any sleep during the day. I am always busy doing something.
to induce sleepHe uses drugs to induce sleep.Soporifics [ˌsɔp(ə)’rɪfɪk] induce sleep.
to lull to sleepBefore 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 sleepHe’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 sleepTry to catch up on sleep during the weekend.I can’t catch up on sleep on the weekend. I’m too busy.
in one’s sleepYou were talking in your sleep last night.You sometimes giggle in your sleep.
to feign [feɪn] sleepI feigned sleep when the ticket inspector came round.Don’t feign sleep. I know that you’re wide awake (fully awake).
a wink of sleepLast 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 lack of sleepYou’re nervous from a lack of sleep.A lack of sleep affected her performance.
a good/poor nights sleepMake 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.

Word / phraseMeaningExample
sleepyheada person, especially a child, who is tired and looks as if they want to sleepCome on, sleepyhead! It’s time to go to bed.
night owl /ˌaʊl/a person who prefers to be awake and active at nightI’m not much of a night owl. So I usually go to bed at 10 p.m.
early risera person who gets up early in the morningMy wife and I are early risers, usually up by 6.00.
to sleep in to stay asleep in the morning for longer than you usually doYesterday, few players turned up because most slept in.
to sleep on itif 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 itI will have to sleep on it and see where we are.
heavy sleepera person who sleeps deeply and is difficult to wake upI was afraid you’d be a heavy sleeper and I’d have to drag you outside or something.
to hit the hayto go to bedShall we hit the hay now? We’ll have to get up at 5 a.m. tomorrow.
to turn in (for the night)to go to bed in the eveningStill feeling the impact of my long flight from London, I’d like to turn in.
to catch some Zs (American English)to get some sleepI didn’t get a wink of sleep last night, so I’ll go catch some Zs now.
fast/sound asleepsleeping deeplyTurning over, she was soon sound asleep again.
to get en early nightto go to bed before the usual timeI’m going to try and get an early night so I don’t oversleep tomorrow.
to nod offto fall asleep, especially briefly or unintentionallyI ate a light breakfast and nodded off to asleep again, sleepy from the previous night’s restlessness.
to drop offto fall asleep easily, especially without intending toOnce I had the bed made, I quickly dropped off to sleep.
to be out like a lightto be asleepAs soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out like a light.
to take/have a nap/catnapto sleep lightly or briefly, especially during the dayExcuse me, I’ll just take a little nap.
to sleep like a dog / to be dead to the worldto sleep very soundly (= very well)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 boredI can’t stop yawning! – You need to take a catnap.
to toss and turnto keep moving around in bed not able to sleep properlyYou feel as if you’ve been tossing and turning all night, and wake up feeling worn out (= extremely tired).
nightmarea frightening or unpleasant dreamI had nightmares after watching the horror movie.


Click the link here and match the parts of the sentences.

Click the link here and choose the right word to complete the sentences.

Do you feel a little sleepy now? That’s OK. Have a nap if you can 😊 and remember to subscribe to our blog for more content like this.

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