Hit the Hay - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you feeling tired? Maybe it’s time to “hit the hay” and go to bed? To hit the hay is a common term used in modern society, and the chances are you use it yourself from time to time or hear other people say it around you.

The term suits informal use, and many people use it when referring to themselves or others. Let’s look at the meaning of this idiom. We’ll unpack how to use it in a sentence and give you the origin of the saying.

Hit the Hay Meaning

To hit the hay refers to the act of going to bed because you feel tired. You could use it around a campfire when telling others you want to retire for the night, or you could use it when sitting on the couch watching TV to say to your partner it’s time to go to sleep.

You can also use the idiom to tell others that it’s time to go to bed. If your kids are up late, telling them to hit the hay refers to requesting that they prepare for bedtime.

Hit the Hay Example Usage

Here are a few examples of how to use hit the hay in a sentence.

  • I’m feeling tired, Maggie; it’s time to hit the hay. Are you coming?
  • Tom, you’re up to late tonight; it’s time for you to hit the hay.
  • I’m going to hit the hay and get some beauty sleep.
  • I feel exhausted; it’s time to shower and hit the hay.
  • There’s no reason to stay up watching this nonsense. I’m going to hit the hay.

Hit the Hay Origin

Hit the hay has origins in the late 1800s to early 1900s in America. Around this time, people would stuff burlap sacks with hay to create comfortable bedding. To hit the hay refers to the act of landing on the makeshift mattress and preparing for sleep.

Today, we use modern mattresses featuring design and construction with foam and springs. However, using the term is still appropriate in contemporary society, and many people use it to describe the act of going to bed.

Phrases Similar to Hit the Hay

There are similar phrases and idioms to “hit the hay.” Here are some examples.

  • Hit the sack.
  • To turn in.
  • Get some shuteye.
  • Get some beauty sleep.
  • To visit club duvet.
  • Catch some “Z’s”

Phrases Opposite to Hit the Hay

A phrase with the opposite meaning to hit the hay would refer to staying up when you feel tired or not feeling tired enough to go to bed. Some examples would be the following.

  • Burn the midnight oil.
  • Staying up to hear the birds chirp.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Hit the hay.
  • Hit the sack.
  • Hitting the hay.

In these terms, sack and hay are interchangeable, as people would use hay to stuff a burlap sack, and you could “hit” the sack or the hay.

Ways People May Say Hit the Hay Incorrectly

Some people may use the term incorrectly, referring to a violent movement of “hitting” the hay. For instance, “I was hitting the hay” before I got some sleep.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Hit the Hay

You can use hitting the hay to describe going to sleep. You can also use it as a request to other people, like your kids or partner. “Do you feel like hitting the hay yet?” or, “It’s time for you kids to hit the hay.” This term isn’t suitable for use as a formal request.

You can use this idiom to relate to other people that you’re feeling tired, or you can use it to describe past events. For instance, I was feeling tired last night, so I decided to hit the hay early.

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