I have had this thought on many sleepless nights: is there a word specifically for the desire to go to sleep? Not in the sense of being sleepy or tired, but actively wanting to become asleep.

If a person is in bed desiring and attempting to will themselves to sleep. Does this desire have a name?

  • Somnorexia could be the word.
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 11:56
  • Isn't that kind of the definition of insomnia?
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 12:23
  • A consummation devoutly to be wished?
    – bib
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 12:58

3 Answers 3


One of the definitions of Somnolence.

  • Yes. It's a nuisance that some other senses suggest that one would have no such desire, particularly that of sleeping for an unusually long time, but one sense does match the question perfectly.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 13:30

Google has hits for 'hypnophilia', a coinage allegedly meaning 'a simple love for sleep'. But that sounds more descriptive of a general feelgood attitude towards sleeping, rather than the anxious wish for sleep at a time when sleep won't come.

And OED doesn't list 'hypnophilia', though it has 'hypnophobia/hypnophoby' for the reverse, 'a morbid dread of falling asleep'.


Notwithstanding this is not what you want:

Narcolepsy, according an Oxford dictionary, is

a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep whenever in relaxing surroundings

and according to Cambridge, is

a medical condition which makes you go to sleep suddenly and when you do not expect it

  • No, the OP requested a noun that means one desires to go to sleep. What you have responded with is not subject to volition; it just happens, no matter whether one wants it to or not.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 12:59
  • Yes, you are right. Maybe I should post this as a comment to the question?
    – Jonas
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 13:00
  • Yes, you could certainly do that, although I am not sure how to do so in a way that requests clarification on or sheds light upon the question asked. But feel free to try.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 13:02
  • Narcolepsy is in fact more or less an exact antonym to what is being asked here: it’s falling asleep without wanting to, rather than wanting to fall asleep and being unable to. Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 13:05

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