How many ways are there of saying that someone didn't sleep all night? In my country, it can be expressed with just an adjective or a noun; how can I say it in English?

To address the comments below:

Original language: Portuguese.

Respective (2-word) adjective: "de direta", as in "I am 'de direta'".

Respective noun: "direta", as in "Today I did a 'direta'".

  • I downvoted this for two reasons. First, in English there are at least dozens of ways; far too many to count. Then, it doesn't seem fair of igordcard to ask that, without telling us his country, and what's meant by it can be expressed with just an adjective or a noun. Is A night without sleeping the same as a night without sleep, let alone someone didn't sleep all night? Any might be expressed with just an adjective or a noun added to a phrase; any language I don’t speak might have a single noun for any of them and still, won’t that adjective have to be phenomenally powerful? – Robbie Goodwin Jul 12 '17 at 21:07
  • 1
    It doesn't seem fair of Robbie Goodwin to downvote and assume I know all about english (except the answer to my question) without first stopping to ask a question himself. – igordcard Jul 13 '17 at 15:08
  • 1
    What is it in English? OR How can I say it in English? ( not: How can it be .....?) – Mari-Lou A Jul 13 '17 at 17:21
  • Thanks for changing that, igordcard; sorry you felt miffed. I'm almost sorry I asked how in your country, that could be expressed with just an adjective or a noun… and without trying to start a separate discussion, I do wonder whether that's as unusual in Portuguese as it is in translation? Either way, does anyone see a reason I can't coin two new words? Insomnious: adjective; causing or characterised by insomnia. Insomninight: noun; a night of insomnia. – Robbie Goodwin Jul 13 '17 at 18:43

I've always liked: "I had an all-nighter."

This generally refers to a night out on the town, night-time shift work, or cramming for exams. Something of that nature.

  • 5
    In Australian English we also use to pull an all-nighter, meaning to work (on a project) all night. – jsj Jun 1 '11 at 0:00
  • I think this is what I was looking for. – igordcard Jun 1 '11 at 2:47
  • 2
    You pull all-nighters in the U.S., too. – JPmiaou Oct 28 '11 at 14:46
  • You can use the word "pulled". "I pulled an all nighter." – Jordan Jelinek Jul 13 '17 at 20:06

You have a choice: an insomnia, a sleepless night (the noun is sleeplessness), a wakeful night (wakefulness), a restless night (restlessness).

  • Oh, by the way, we use an adjective too. Let me edit the question. – igordcard May 31 '11 at 21:05
  • 4
    I don't think insomnia can take an article. – Marthaª Oct 28 '11 at 13:51

There is also the word fitful, as in "I had a fitful sleep last night," which means the sleep was intermittent and not restful, not a proper night's sleep at all.


Insomnia perhaps but you still need something like "I lay awake all night with insomnia" which is a bit redundant.

  • 1
    Yes, the cause doesn't need to be insomnia though. – igordcard May 31 '11 at 20:49

I have heard the word white night used for this, but I think this is taken from other languages.

  • I certainly would have no clue what you meant by "white night" without a lot of further context. "White knight" is a set phrase in English. "White night" is not. – Marthaª Oct 28 '11 at 13:52
  • It's used in Italian, passare la notte in bianco = (literally) to pass a night in white, i.e. Nowadays understood to stay up all night; but the true meaning of this expression lies deep in medieval history. – Mari-Lou A Sep 28 '13 at 6:53
  • I think I was thinking of the French "nuit blanche" – BlueWhale Sep 30 '13 at 14:08

protected by tchrist Jul 3 '17 at 17:02

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.