8 Sleepy Ways to Say Goodnight in Japanese

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You may already know that the most common way to say ‘goodnight’ in Japanese is oyasumi (おやすみ) !

However, Japanese is renowned for its varying vocabulary depending on the formality of the situation you are speaking in. In this article, we will cover how to say goodnight in both casual and formal situations.

We will also look at some other phrases we may want to use at night-time. Before you know it, you will be dreaming in Japanese!

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Ways to say goodnight in Japanese

Oyasumi

おやすみ

Goodnight

Oyasumi (おやすみ) is the standard Japanese word for ‘goodnight’.

The original meaning of oyasumi, or yasumi, is actually ‘rest’ and is often used when a person is on leave from work or school. You may have heard it in the phrase for ‘summer holidays/vacation’ in Japanese, natsu yasumi (夏休み / なつやすみ). 

Oyasumi is used in a similar fashion to how we use ‘goodnight’ in English. Of course, it is what we say right before we head off to bed, but we can also use it as a farewell phrase.

If you are parting ways with someone at night you can do so by saying oyasumi!

Oyasumi nasai

おやすみなさい

Goodnight (formal)

A Japanese woman peacefully sleeping wearing a black eye mask, ready to say goodnight.

Oyasumi nasai (おやすみなさい) is the more formal way of saying ‘goodnight’ in Japanese. Be sure to use this version of ‘goodnight’ if you are talking to someone older or who you might not have a close, casual relationship with. 

Note that nasai is an imperative suffix that is added on to the stem of a verb to make it an order (in a polite and soft way). Therefore, strictly speaking, oyasumi nasai originally meant ‘please, take a rest’, as an order! Although, today it is used to mean a simple ‘goodnight’. 

Ne nasai!

寝なさい!

Go to sleep!

A Japanese mother and child peacefully say goodnight to each other as they lay side by side in bed.

Now, unlike oyasumi nasai, ne nasai (寝なさい / ねなさい) is actually an order!

This is usually what a mother would say to her children when they have school in the morning and it’s time to sleep. You can use it among friends too, as although it is an order, it is quite soft in nuance!

Yoku / yukkuri / gussuri nete

よく・ゆっくり・ぐっすり寝て

Sleep well

There are a few different ways to wish someone a good sleep. We first need to know that nete (寝て / ねて) is the te (て) form of the verb neru (寝る / ねる) which means ‘to sleep’.

One of the te-form’s many uses is to give a casual order or request.

  • Yoku nete (良く寝て / よくねて) – yoku means ‘good’ or ‘well’.
  • Yukkuri nete (ゆっくり寝て / ゆっくりねて) – yukkuri means ‘slowly’, however, paired with ‘to sleep’ implies that you are wishing for someone to ‘sleep comfortably’. 
  • Gussuri nete (ぐっすり寝て / ぐっすりねて) – gussuri is an onomatopoeic word which means to sleep ‘soundly’ or ‘deeply’. 

If you want to sound extra friendly, you can add on ne (ね) at the end of the utterance!

Yoi / ii yume mite

良い夢見て

Sweet dreams

A young Japanese boy peacefully sleeping in a bed with white sheets, as his loved ones softly say Goodnight.

The adjective yoi (良い / よい) can also be pronounced as ii (いい). Note that yoi does come off as more formal than ii.

Yume (夢 / ゆめ) means ‘dream’ while mite (見て / みて) is the te form of the verb miru (見る / みる) meaning ‘to see’.

Altogether, the literal translation is essentially instructing someone to witness nice dreams! Which, of course, we refer to in English as ‘sweet dreams’.

How to express tiredness in Japanese

Now we know how to say ‘goodnight’ in Japanese, let’s also look at some phrases which you can use to let people know you’ll soon be heading off to the wonderful land of nod!

A Japanese-style folded futon bed and bedding on the floor in a room with a yellow wall.

Nemui

眠い

Sleepy 

Nemui (眠い / ねむい) translates as ‘sleepy’ or ‘drowsy’. It’s that typical feeling you get when it’s growing late, your eyes start feeling heavy and you just want to get cuddled up in bed and drift off to sleep!

As is in English, there is a distinction between being ‘sleepy’ and being ‘tired’.

Tsukareta

疲れた

Tired

Tsukareta (疲れた / つかれた) means ‘tired’ in Japanese. It comes from the verb tsukareru (疲れる / つかれる) meaning ‘to get tired’. Tsukareta is the past tense of the plain form of the verb, ie ‘I have gotten tired’.

In contrast to ‘sleepy’, this is more of a physical exhaustion which comes after completing taxing activities such as a busy day at work.

Sorosoro neru jikan

そろそろ寝る時間

It’s almost bedtime

Sorosoro neru jikan (そろそろ寝る時間 / そろそろねるじかん) is a phrase which hints that you want to ‘hit the hay’ soon, so to speak.

Sorosoro is an onomatopoeic adverb which means ‘soon’, and is often translated as ‘it’s about time’. Neru jikan is a literal equivalent to ‘bed time’ in English.

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Hannah Stafford

Hannah is a half Irish/half Japanese girl living in Ireland. Her love for Japan and the Japanese language led her to studying languages and translation in university where she specialised in Japanese. She spent a year studying abroad at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. In her free time, Hannah enjoys using her sewing machine to upcycle clothes and create new pieces!

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