We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping, so it comes as no surprise that there are a plethora of terms we use to describe the action of sleeping. Some of these terms and idioms fall under the category of slang, so they’re quite fun to know and include in your vocabulary. If you’ve ever been curious about all the slang terms for sleep and sleeping, then our article is perfect for you.
Before we explain and exemplify all the slang terms we picked for this article, we will provide a brief overview of what slang is and how it differs from jargon.
Without further ado, let’s introduce you to some interesting idioms that will spice up your sleep-related vocabulary.
What Is Slang?
First things first, let’s establish what slang is.
Slang refers to a type of vocabulary that’s common in spoken language but tends to be avoided in formal writing. It’s used by a particular group of people who belong to the same social group, such as teenagers. Slang has an informal nature, but it’s often confused with jargon.
The difference between slang and jargon is that the latter is composed of technical terms used in a certain field by a group of people who belong in that field, without it being deemed as informal.
Slang Terms for Sleep
There are hundreds of slang terms that belong to this category, but we have selected the most interesting examples which are widely used.
Definition: We’ve all heard the phrase cat nap before. It refers to a nap that’s typically short in duration or light in nature.
Example: Her cat nap ended abruptly when there was a knock on the door.
Hit the Sack
Definition: Hitting the sack simply means going to bed. This idiom has an interesting origin – it refers to the fact that mattresses, before evolving to their current form, used to contain sacks filled with different materials, such as feathers.
Example: He immediately hit the sack after coming home from work.
Definition: In keeping with the interesting idioms, we present you with saw wood. This idiom is used to describe someone who is a loud sleeper, especially someone who is prone to snoring.
Example: Jim was sawing wood last night, so I had to sleep on the couch.
Definition: Most of us know that nodding off typically refers to when we move our heads up and down to denote agreement. However, it can also refer to the action of falling asleep in a place/setting where you’re not supposed to, such as public transport.
Example: She watched her classmate nod off in the back of the bus.
Catch Some Z’s
Definition: The term z’s (often written as Zzz) is used to describe sleeping, so it won’t come as a surprise to know that the idiom “to catch some z’s” is meant to represent going to sleep.
Example: I’m going to catch some z’s, but I hope you guys have a great evening.
Call It a Night
Definition: The idiom “call it a night” can have two different meanings. It can mean going home after a night out or going to bed.
Example: Unfortunately, he wanted to call it a night, so I had to watch the movie by myself.
Definition: Crash is another commonly used term to describe going to sleep or staying in someone’s house overnight.
Example: I was so drained after my last exam that I immediately crashed when I got back home.
I crashed at his place last night after the party.
Definition: Loaf, used as a verb in the context of sleep and sleeping, simply means to rest/sleep. As you can assume, it comes from a loaf of bread.
Definition: It’s high time I stopped loafing and started studying for my exams.
Definition: There are many slang terms for nap and napping since it’s such a common phenomenon across multiple cultures. In this instance, the term zizz has a similar meaning to cat nap and is used to describe a short nap. However, unlike cat nap, zizz is a British slang that’s mostly used in Britain.
Example: I want to have a little zizz but I’m worried about messing up my sleeping schedule.
Definition: The term shut-eye means to sleep. Unsurprisingly, it’s a pretty straightforward slang term that refers to closing one’s eyes and preparing to rest.
Example: You look tired, maybe you should go home and get some shut-eye.
Definition: One common side-effect of smoking weed is drowsiness and sleepiness. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that there’s a term to describe the action of falling into a deep sleep after smoking some marijuana.
Example: I had every intention of going to the party with them, but I fell into a weed coma.
Definition: Only slightly related to the act of sleep, windoze is a derogatory term for Windows that is used to describe the long amount of time it takes for Windows to boot up.
Example: I’m not a big fan of Windoze, I much prefer Mac.
Definition: Food coma is another fun sleep-related slang to describe the action of going into a deep sleep right after eating copious amounts of food.
Example: She fell into a food coma shortly after we had our Christmas dinner.
Lay My Head
Definition: Lay my head is a commonly used slang term to denote sleeping.
Example: I’m quite tired from work today, so I want to lay my head for a bit before we go out.
Definition: Kip is another British slang for sleep. Etymology-wise, it comes from the Danish word for an inn.
Example: I was worried about not getting a solid kip on our trip, but luckily the bus seats were quite comfortable.
Definition: Gouch is used to denote the action of falling asleep as a result of consuming certain drugs.
Example: She came inside and saw me gouching on my couch.
Get Forty Winks
Definition: As interesting as this slang term might sound at first, it simply means to take a short nap.
Example: I’m ready to get forty winks after that tiring meeting.
Go Up the Wooden Hill
Definition: In keeping with the metaphoric idioms, to go up the wooden hill means to go up to bed.
Example: The conversation was really interesting, but we were quite looking forward to going up the wooden hill.
In the Arms of Morpheus
Definition: Mythology aficionados will love this next slang term. Don’t be fooled by the poetic language, in the arms of Morpheus simply means to be asleep.
Example: She was in the arms of Morpheus as soon as we came home from the party.
Definition: If you say you or someone is out cold, you’re implying that you/they fell fast asleep.
Example: By the time Alice came back home, he was out cold.
Definition: Siesta is a Spanish slang word that refers to a nap that’s done in the afternoon, typically after lunch. If you’ve ever been to Spain or you’re acquainted with Spanish culture, this phenomenon definitely won’t come as a surprise to you. However, this phenomenon isn’t just popular in Spain – many cultures have this tradition, especially those in warmer climates.
Example: John was quite worn out from our walk yesterday, so he had some siesta in the hopes of getting more energized.
Definition: Zonked is a verb denoting the act of sleeping caused by intoxication.
Example: We had a couple of drinks last night, so Jenna zonked on our sofa.
Sleep a Wink
Definition: Similarly to get forty winks, sleep a wink as a slang idiom refers to a short rest or a nap and it’s typically used in a negative context.
Example: The neighbours were being so loud last night that I couldn’t sleep a wink.
We hope our article introduced you to some new and fun sleep-related terms and idioms which you can incorporate into your vocabulary.
We spend a large portion of our lives sleeping, so it’s only natural that we have so many terms and verbs expressing the art of sleeping. Since many of us are fans of napping, you won’t be surprised to know that there is a myriad of words to express napping and naps, such as a cat nap, get forty winks, and sleep a wink. There are also quite a few slang terms that simply denote sleeping, such as catching some z’s, loafing, shut-eye, and laying one’s head. In addition, we’ve also included some slang terms that are specific to only certain parts of the world such as the term kip – which is a British slang term for sleeping, and siesta – a Spanish term for a short afternoon nap.