I slept like a log. (Sleep idioms)

by Kate Woodford

C.Aranega/Moment/Getty
C.Aranega/Moment/Getty

This week, we’re looking at the surprising number of idioms in English that relate to sleep and rest. Try to stay awake till the end!

Starting with the morning, if you say that someone is in the land of the living, you mean that they are awake. This is a humorous phrase, sometimes used of someone who has finally woken up after a lie-in (= a British expression for the time when someone has stayed in bed in the morning later than usual):

I was hoping to speak to Klara. Is she in the land of the living, do you know?

In the US and the UK, this is called sleeping in.

Later in the day, after a period of work, someone may decide to put their feet up, (= to sit down and relax, sometimes with their feet raised off the ground): It’s been a long day. I’m gonna go home and put my feet up.

In the evening, someone who is about to go to bed may use the informal phrases hit the sack/the hay. I’ve got to get up early tomorrow so I’m going to hit the sack.

They may also announce that they are turning in for the evening/night: I’m quite tired. I think I’m going to turn in for the night.

A number of idioms relate to the quality of sleep and how deeply we sleep. If someone sleeps like a log, they sleep well, not waking at all for a long period: I slept like a log last night – I didn’t even hear the rain.

Someone who is out for the count or dead to the world is sleeping heavily and not likely to wake soon:

It looks like Tom’s out for the count.

By the time I came to bed, you were dead to the world.  

If someone goes out like a light, they start to sleep immediately: As soon as my head hit the pillow, I went out like a light.

Sadly, we don’t always sleep well, and there are idioms for this too. Someone who doesn’t sleep a wink, doesn’t sleep at all: I didn’t sleep a wink last night with all the noise next door.

If they sleep badly, moving around a lot in bed because they are worried about something, they may say that they toss and turn: I was tossing and turning all night, worrying about the interview.

Finally, people sometimes talk humorously about needing their beauty sleep, meaning the sleep that they need in order to feel and look healthy and attractive. Do you have the equivalent phrase in your language?

42 thoughts on “I slept like a log. (Sleep idioms)

  1. Astrid

    In Norwegian a deep sleep is sleeping like a stone.

    A sleepy-head is called “syvsover” (seven-sleeper), from the story of seven martyrs from the city of Ephesus who hid inside a cave to escape a persecution. They fell asleep and woke up nearly 200 years later.

    Instead of hitting the hay, one jumps into the fleebox (loppekasse).

    Someone who rises early is called a morning bird.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Astrid, thanks for this! All very interesting. Your ‘morning bird’ is like our lark, (I should perhaps have included this…) All the best to you!

  2. Tatiana Balandina

    Dear Kate! Your articles are really fantastic! I’m Russian and our languages English and Russian belong to different language classes, but it’s astonishing how much in common we have when idioms are concerned.. We sleep like logs, too and are early birds. So when reading your articles I also think about and analize my native language. and it’s really great! Thank you!

    1. Kate Woodford

      Tatiana, thanks for your feedback. So pleased you are finding our posts useful. How interesting that Russians sleep like logs too! To my mind, there’s nothing especially sleepy about a log. All the best!

  3. Anup

    In Indian mythology Kumbhakarna is a character who slept like dead ( for years together) and not awaking despite very heavy sound. So for someone who sleeps sound we say they are Kumbhakarna.

  4. Nguyễn Quốc Việt

    In Viet Nam, if someone sleep like a log, we called them sleep like dead. I’m not sure whether i can use all of these idioms or not, but great article anyway. Thanks!

  5. In Chinese, ‘sleep like a log’ equals to ‘sleep like a (dead) pig’. But this phrase in Chinese is a kind of tease. We often laugh at someone who sleeps deeply. “Look at James! He’s sleeping like a (dead) pig, we can continue to talk aloud. Yay!”

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi! Yes, good point and thanks for getting in touch. I considered including this phrase as it did come to mind, but it’s a bit old-fashioned. We we try only to include language that is current on this blog. All the best!

  6. Albert

    Really interesting to learn expressions like these. I am an English language learner. I am a Spanish speaker and a lot of expressions are used in Spanish as well, and I am sure that Native English speakers use them quite often too.Thus it is like must to use them or at least being able to understand their meaning. Actually, it is so motivating to be able to catch these expresión when you hear them in a movie or any given conversation. I can’t praise Cambridge Dictionary enough for being so comprehensive informative and fun. Thank you. Regards from Chile.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Gil, Yes, I agree with Paul below. It’s a phrasal verb rather than an idiom, but the phrase ‘nod off’ is often used in this situation, when someone starts to sleep when they don’t intend to, often in a sitting position, e.g. I nodded off in front of the TV. All the best to you!

  7. Beshan

    Hello Kate
    I find your article very interesting especially the examples for each idiom. I have a question. Is there an idiom or expression for sleeping enough except ‘sleep in’ ? What I mean is the opposite of sleeping too little, which makes you feels tired. What would a native speaker say if they asked ” Have you slept enough” ?

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi Beshan! Thank you so much for the kind words. Actually, I think the most commonly used inquiry in this situation is just ‘Did you sleep well?’ or ‘How did you sleep?’ All the best!

  8. Pingback: I slept like a log. (Sleep idioms) – englishmoreformal

  9. Hi Kate, I enjoy to read this idiomatic expressions with examples well. I am from Nigeria I am impaired of hearing. Thank God I am able to read, write and understand all. I used to talk about that a deep sleep is sleeping like a mountain

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post. I love your phrase ‘sleep like a mountain’ – it conveys deep peace, doesn’t it? All the best to you!

  10. Youmi

    Hello, Kate. This is really article. I can use all of idioms everyday 🙂
    I always go out like a light when there’s something for my head to lean against.

  11. Hi Kate

    Thanks for the interesting article. In India a very common and humorous alternative of ‘sleeping like a log’ is ‘ghode bech ke sona’ which can be literally translated as- sold their horses off and slept (without a worry).

  12. Jojo

    Hello everyone,
    I am from Hungary and we sleep like a fur instead of being dead to the world! In Hungarian ‘aludni mint a bunda’! It is so funny and interesting to think about these idioms in my native language and learn he English ones as well! 🙂

  13. acidkike

    Hi Kate!

    Very helpful your post about idioms of sleeping. Here in Spain we have an idiom that is almost like that of ‘sleep like a log’, which is ‘sleep like a baby’ even though I’ve never got it as I have a baby who’s tough to sleep.

    Thanks for this posts. I’m saving them in my English library.

  14. Very good these tips will help me a lot, I’m starting to practice meditation, I need to sleep better because I’m suffering enough with insomnia and sleep-related problems. And so I get tired during the day and night can not sleep mainly because of anxiety. But these tips have helped me a lot.

  15. Hi, your article is very helpful, as a Polish native speaker I found some similarities to your idioms like ” in the land of the living” or ” to put their feet up” and “to sleep a wink” and ” an early bird ” .However, We say to sleep like a baby when We sleep very well or like a stone or dead when We’re dead to the world and We say to have a hard night when We can’t sleep a wink ! Lol, as I have mentioned at the beginning your article has refreshed my memory. Thanks !

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