What's the real, definite difference between [寝]{ね}る and [眠]{ねむ}る?

I know they both mean "sleep", but also that each carries some additional (sometimes, figurative) meanings.

Where do the meanings overlap? In what scenarios are they interchangeable?

  • 5
    this website had a long and detailed explanation it did the trick for me: maggiesensei.com/2011/05/27/…
    – yadokari
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 19:36
  • I re-corrected your question. My edit needs to be peer reviewed but remember that you should meet some standards when writing a question, like: No abusing of bold, unnecessary expressions (SMACKDOWN in the title is distracting). I posted on your question "Disallow "petty" editing" in Meta.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 9:28

3 Answers 3



go to bed, be in bed.
Does not imply you sleep, since you could be listening to the radio, watching TV…


to sleep, not be awake.
Physiological state.

  • 2
    Do you mean "Does not necessarily imply you sleep"? Because it can mean "to sleep, not be awake".
    – istrasci
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 17:46
  • 1
    @istrasci: "not(imply(A))" is different from "imply(not(A))", so "necessarily" is redundant.
    – Axioplase
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 3:56
  • 3
    寝る sometimes does imply sleeping, just in the same way as “go to bed” sometimes implies sleeping. It depends on the context. Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 11:22
  • 2
    "毎日何時に眠っているか当然に分からない!" ← ?「自分が毎日何時に眠っているかなんてわかるわけがない」って意味ですかね・・
    – chocolate
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 5:12
  • 1
    「寝る」には「眠る」"sleep" という意味もあります・・・eg. 昨夜は8時間寝ました。 = 昨夜は8時間眠りました。 ← 日常会話では前者のほうがよく使われます
    – chocolate
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 5:13
  • 寝る 'sleep', 'lie down', 'have sexual intercourse'
  • 眠る 'fall asleep', 'remain untouched'

寝る means sleeping.
Eg. He is sleeping. 彼は寝ている。

眠る means sleepy.
眠い (adv) means sleepy.
so.. we usually use "So sleepy today.." => 眠いなあ。。

Hope this help :)



1) 横になる Lie down

彼は草の上に寝ている。 He is lying on the grass.

2) Get to bed

寝る時間だ。 Time to go to bed.

3) Sleep (same with 眠る)

お茶を飲みすぎて寝られなかった。Too much tea kept me awake.

4) Lie idle (things, etc)

銀行に寝ているお金 Money sitting in the bank

5) Sleep (with somebody)

Other usage:
寝ても覚めても awake or asleep



1) Sleep; have a sleep.

ぐっすり眠っている fast asleep

2) Lie buried.

3) Lie idle (things, etc)

  • 3
    What you explained is the difference between 寝ている and 眠い, not between 寝る and 眠る. Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 10:44

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