Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

There are so many places on the IELTS exam that you may have to talk about sleeping, resting or not sleeping at all.

Luckily, English has an impressive number of idioms for these topics!

On Episode 477 of the All Ears English podcast, we discussed a few of these idioms.

Today’s episode will teach you a few more that can be used on the IELTS exam.

We will also teach you a great expression that you can use as a Speaking filler!

Idioms for being tired

Running on empty: referring to a car that has no fuel

This is used as an idiom for people who are hungry or tired.

  • I haven’t been sleeping well – I’m running on empty!

Slap happy: silliness usually caused by fatigue

  • The later it gets, the more silly and slap happy my sister becomes.

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Idioms for going to sleep

Hit the sack: common expression for heading to bed

  • I’m so tired. I’m going to hit the sack!

Hit the hay: old fashioned; similar to hit the sack

Turning in for the night: more formal way of saying you are going to sleep

  • I think I’ll turn in for the night.

Crash: informal slang for going to sleep. Reserve for Speaking Part 1.

  • I’m going to crash.

Idioms for how deeply you sleep

Idioms for sleeping very deeply:

  • Out like a light
  • Out cold
  • Sleep like a log 
  • Out to the world
  • Out for the count
  • Dead to the world

Sawing logs: snoring loudly

Toss and turn: sleeping lightly and waking often to turn or move

  • I’m anxious about my new job, so I tossed and turned all night.

Didn’t sleep a wink: not sleeping well; waking often

  • I didn’t sleep a wink last night, so now I need a nap!

IELTS Speaking fillers

Many of these idioms can be used as a filler phrase.

In order to avoid pausing or saying “um”, instead use informal fillers for Part 1 and formal fillers for Part 3.

These can be used for both!

  • Sorry, I was tossing and turning all night so I need to think about that one a second!
  • Wow! I didn’t sleep a wink last night so my brain is fuzzy!


Questions about sleep habits come up often on the IELTS exam.

Speaking Part 1 questions might ask about sleep habits or routines.

Many Part 2 answers can include information about where you slept or how well.

In order to get a 7 or higher, you need to use idioms!

Practice using today’s idioms so you are ready for any question.

For more strategies and high level vocabulary, join 3 Keys IELTS today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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