Sleep Tight - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to wish someone a good night? If so, you could tell them “sleep tight.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The meaning of the expression “sleep tight” is a farewell greeting to people wishing them a pleasant, restful night. You’re wishing them a peaceful night and that they wake in the morning feeling refreshed.

Many people add the saying “don’t let the bed bugs bite” to the end of the expression. It’s common for parents to say this line to their children, but adults may also use it.

You can use the phrase when wishing anyone a good night. However, it’s more common for people to use it with people they know. You could use the term in person, on the phone, or in a text message.

Example Usage

“Are you off to bed then? You look exhausted. Well, have a hot shower, get under the covers and sleep tight.”

“Sweet dreams and sleep tight; enjoy your beauty sleep because you sure need it.”

“Thanks for a great day. Sleep tight, and we’ll see you in the morning.”

“Sleep tight, my friend, that was one heck of a day, and we all deserve some shuteye right now.”

Partner 1: “I’m going to bed, honey; I’ll see you in dreamland.”

Partner 2: “Ok, sleep tight and sweet dreams, my love.”

Kid: “Mom, I’m going to bed.”

Mom: “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”


The origin of the expression "sleep tight" comes from the mid-1800s. The first citation of the saying in print comes from 1866. Susan Bradford Eppes included the phrase in her diary, "Through Some Eventful Years," which appears as follows.

"All is ready, and we leave as soon as breakfast is over. Goodbye, little Diary. 'Sleep tight and wake bright,' for I will need you when I return."

The phrase would also spread through Britain and America in the late 1800s, and it was a common farewell greeting by the early 1900s. Some of the earlier iterations of this saying include "Sleep tightly" and "tight asleep."

Marie Beauchamp was the first to use "tight asleep" in her novel, "Elizabeth and Her German Garden," published in 1898, where it appears as follows.

"And once, when there was a storm in the night, she complained loudly and wanted to know why Lieber Gott didn't do the scolding in the daytime, as she had been so tight asleep."

Phrases Similar to Sleep Tight

  • Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.
  • Sleep well.
  • Sweet dreams.

Phrases Opposite to Sleep Tight

  • Nightmare fuel.
  • Restless night.
  • Toss and turn all night.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Sleep tight.

Ways People May Say Sleep Tight Incorrectly

Some people may use the older version of the saying, “sleep tightly” instead of “sleep tight.” While it’s not technically incorrect, it’s the less common of the expressions.

Most people will use the phrase when wishing someone a good night; you wouldn’t use it if someone was going down for a nap.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Sleep Tight

You can use “sleep tight” to wish anyone a goodnight. It applies to people of all age groups, from toddlers to seniors.

Typically, you’ll say it to someone you know, like your children or a friend. For instance, you could tell your baby to “sleep tight” as you lay them in their crib. You could tell a friend “sleep tight” when they retire to bed on a shared vacation.

It’s common for people to add “don’t let the bed bugs bite” or a similar addition. So, it would read as “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

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