Mastering Japanese: How to Say Sleepy in Japanese – Quick Guide

If you’re learning Japanese or planning to travel to Japan, it’s essential to know how to express sleepiness in Japanese. Whether you’re feeling drowsy or sleepy, it’s crucial to be able to communicate your state of mind accurately. In this section, you’ll learn different ways to say “sleepy” in Japanese, the Japanese word for sleepy, and how to express sleepiness in Japanese.

Common Japanese Vocabulary for Sleepy

When it comes to expressing sleepiness in Japanese, there are a variety of words and phrases that can be used. Here are some common Japanese vocabulary terms used to describe feeling sleepy:

Term Pronunciation Meaning
眠い ねむい Sleepy
眠気 ねむけ Drowsiness
眠たい ねむたい Dozy
睡魔 すいま Sleepiness caused by fatigue
昏睡 こんすい Coma

Common Japanese Expressions for Sleepy

Aside from vocabulary terms, there are also various expressions used to describe being sleepy in Japanese. Here are some examples:

  • もう眠たい (mou nemutai) – I’m already sleepy
  • 寝不足 (nebusoku) – Sleep-deprived
  • 寝坊した (neboushita) – Overslept
  • 眠りが浅い (nemurigawasai) – Light sleeper

By incorporating these vocabulary terms and expressions into your Japanese conversations, you’ll be able to confidently and accurately express sleepiness.

Translating Sleepy into Japanese

When it comes to translating the English word “sleepy” into Japanese, it’s essential to understand that Japanese has multiple words and expressions for the same concept.

The most common Japanese word for sleepy is “nemui” (眠い), which is used to express the feeling of sleepiness. However, there are also other words for sleepiness, such as “suimin-yoku ga fukai” (睡眠欲が深い), which translates to a deeper desire for sleep.

It’s crucial to note that Japanese grammar is vastly different from English, so when translating the English word “sleepy” to Japanese, sentence structure and context play a significant role. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the appropriate context and tone when using Japanese expressions for sleepiness.

How to Express Sleepiness in Japanese

There are several ways to describe being sleepy in Japanese. Here are some common expressions you can use:

Japanese Romaji English translation
眠い nemui Sleepy/tired
疲れた tsukareta Tired
寝たい netai Want to sleep
眠くてたまらない ne-mukute tamaranai So sleepy I can’t bear it

As you can see, the Japanese language has several words and phrases that can be used to express sleepiness. Some of these expressions can also be used to describe fatigue or a general lack of energy. Choosing the right expression will depend on the situation and your level of familiarity with the person you are speaking to.

How to Use These Expressions

When using these expressions, it’s important to pay attention to the level of politeness you use. Japanese has different levels of politeness, and using the wrong level can come across as rude or impolite. Here are some examples of ways to use the expressions above:

  • 眠いです (nemui desu) – polite
  • 眠いよ (nemui yo) – casual
  • 眠くて仕方がない (nemukute shikata ga nai) – very casual/colloquial

As you can see, the level of politeness changes depending on the situation and who you are speaking to. When in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of politeness.

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Now that you know some common expressions for expressing sleepiness in Japanese, you’ll be able to better communicate how you’re feeling to others. Just remember to pay attention to your level of politeness!

Polite Ways to Express Sleepiness in Japanese

When interacting with others in Japanese, it’s important to consider polite expressions. Here are some commonly used phrases to express sleepiness politely:

Japanese Reading English Translation
お疲れ様です。 おつかれさまです。 Thank you for your hard work. (Used as a polite greeting at the end of the day)
すみません、ちょっと眠たくなってしまいました。 すみません、ちょっとねむたくなってしまいました。 Sorry, I’m feeling a bit sleepy.

Another way to express sleepiness politely is to use the suffix “o” with the verb “neru”, meaning “to sleep”. For example, “shisetsu no naka de neru” (to sleep inside the facility) can be changed to “shisetsu no naka de o-nemuri nasaimasu” (excuse me, I will sleep inside the facility).

Additional Tips

When expressing sleepiness to superiors or authority figures, it’s important to use more polite language. Remember to add “o” to verbs and use honorifics when addressing them.

It’s also common to make excuses for sleepiness, such as “I didn’t sleep well last night” or “I had a busy day at work”. However, be sure to avoid making excuses too often as it can come across as unprofessional.

By using these polite expressions, you can effectively convey your sleepiness in Japanese while maintaining politeness and professionalism.

Casual and Colloquial Expressions for Sleepy in Japanese

When speaking with friends and family, it’s common to use more casual and colloquial expressions to convey sleepiness in Japanese. Here are a few examples:

Japanese Transliteration Translation
ねむい ne-mu-i Sleepy/ Tired
ねむさ ne-mu-sa Sleepiness
ねむたい ne-mu-ta-i Feeling Sleepy

Another casual expression that you can use is “やばい” (yabai), which translates to “bad” or “terrible”. It’s often used to describe the feeling of being extremely exhausted.

Furthermore, you can use “寝不足” (nebusoku), which literally translates to “lack of sleep”. It’s commonly used to describe sleep deprivation or the feeling of not getting enough sleep.

Using Casual and Colloquial Expressions Appropriately

It’s important to note that while casual expressions are acceptable in certain contexts, it’s important to use appropriate language depending on the situation. Using casual expressions in formal settings or with people you don’t know well can be considered rude or impolite. Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings and use the appropriate language accordingly.

Now that you know different casual and colloquial expressions for sleepiness in Japanese, you can use them to communicate more effectively and naturally in informal conversations.

Cultural Significance of Sleepiness in Japan

Japan is a country that puts a great emphasis on hard work and a strong work ethic. The culture has a term known as “Karoshi”, which means death by overwork, highlighting the importance of work-life balance. As such, sleepiness is often viewed as a sign of dedication and hard work, as it indicates that one has been putting in long hours.

However, sleepiness is also associated with poor health and laziness, so it is important to strike a balance between being dedicated to work and taking care of oneself.

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In Japan, it is common to see people taking naps during lunch breaks or commuting on public transport. Napping in public is not seen as rude or unprofessional, but rather a way to recharge and improve productivity. In fact, some companies provide designated nap rooms for their employees to use.

Additionally, sleep is often viewed as a luxury, as many people in Japan work long hours and have little time for leisure activities, including sleeping. As a result, there has been a rise in “Nemurikai”, or sleep-related social groups, where people can gather to take naps or discuss sleep-related issues.

Overall, sleepiness in Japan is viewed differently from other cultures and is often seen as an indicator of hard work and dedication. While it is important to take care of oneself, the cultural significance of sleepiness highlights the importance of balancing work and leisure activities in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Conclusion: Mastering Sleepy in Japanese

Congratulations! You have now learned how to say “sleepy” in Japanese and explored different ways to express sleepiness in the language. Remember, language proficiency is the key to genuine conversations. So, keep practicing and expanding your Japanese vocabulary.

By mastering the Japanese word for sleepy and its different expressions, you can better communicate with Japanese speakers and immerse yourself in the rich cultural experience that Japan has to offer.

So, what was the Japanese word for “sleepy” again?

If you have forgotten, to say sleepy in Japanese, you can either use the word “nemui” (瞌睡) or its variations (e.g., nemutta, nemurimashita). Make sure to use the appropriate expression depending on the context and the level of politeness required.

Thank you for reading, and good luck mastering the Japanese language!


Q: How do you say “sleepy” in Japanese?

A: The word for “sleepy” in Japanese is “nemui”.

Q: Are there any other words to describe sleepiness in Japanese?

A: Yes, there are several other words and phrases to express sleepiness in Japanese, such as “neteru” (tired, sleepy), “nemuru” (to sleep), and “nemuke” (drowsiness).

Q: How can I politely express sleepiness in Japanese?

A: To express sleepiness politely, you can use phrases like “oyasuminasai” (goodnight) or “sumimasen, nemui desu” (excuse me, I’m sleepy).

Q: What are some casual and colloquial expressions for sleepy in Japanese?

A: In casual conversations, you might hear expressions like “nemushi” (sleepy), “nete ne” (go sleep), or “nemukatta” (was sleepy).

Q: Is sleepiness culturally significant in Japan?

A: Yes, sleepiness is considered a sign of hard work and dedication in Japan. Taking short naps during work breaks, known as “inemuri”, is also culturally accepted.

Q: How should I conclude my understanding of saying “sleepy” in Japanese?

A: By mastering the different ways to express sleepiness in Japanese, you can improve your language proficiency and have more genuine conversations with native speakers.

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