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How to say Good Night in German


Wishing a friend or a family member a good night and sweet dreams is a nice way of showing you care about them, even while they’re asleep. And what if your friend or relative is German, Swiss or Austrian? Well, you can make your wish even nicer by wishing them a good night in German!

Apart from the proper translation of good night in the German language, you will also learn some other phrases about sleep and bedtime in German. A German saying goes “Ein gutes Gewissen ist ein sanftes Ruhekissen.” Which can be translated as “a good conscience makes a soft pillow”, meaning you will sleep well when nothing is bothering you and keeping you awake.
So, let’s move on and discover what more the Germans have to say about sleep.

Table of Contents

Good Night in German – Gute Nacht

The simplest form to bide a goodnight in German is “Gute Nacht!” It can be used when you’re staying at the same house or hotel with someone and you’re parting to go to your separate bedrooms. Or you can use it as a form of goodbye, e.g. you are when leaving your friends home or while leaving a bar or pub near closing time. When you are already rather tired yourself (or don’t care about perfect grammar), you might shorten it a bit by saying “Gut’ Nacht!” In case even two words are too many, you can shorten it further by saying “Nacht!” But you only should use this amongst close friends, otherwise it might be seen as rude.

Good Night my Love in German

Depending on the gender you would say “Gute Nacht, meine Liebe” to a female or “Gute Nacht, mein Lieber” to a male person. Not gender specific and probably even nicer would be “Gute Nacht, mein Liebling” (good night my darling) or “Gute Nacht, mein Schatz” (good night my treasure). Both “Liebling” and ” Schatz” are amongst the most frequently used love words in German.

Good Night my Friend in German

Again, the gender defines which particular version you would use to wish a friend good night in German. You would say “Gute Nacht, mein Freund” when you are addressing a man. If your friend is female, you could say “Gute Nacht, meine Freundin”. But when you are a man yourself, the female version of friend, “Freundin” is often interpreted as the woman you have a romantic relationship with. So, in order to avoid misinterpretations, you might say “Gute Nacht, meine Liebe.” And yes, even though we use the word “Liebe” (love) it is less romantic and more in the sense of “my dear.”

Good night in German to a Group

When you are addressing a group of people, one of the following phrases could work:

Gute Nachte, meine Freunde! — Good night, my friends!

Gute Nacht, Leute! — Good night, folks!

Gute Nacht, Kameraden! — Good night, comrades!

A formal Way to say Good Night in German

If you want to be rather formal, you could also say “Angenehme Nachtruhe” (goodnight’s rest in English). But that’s not only formal, but also a bit old-fashioned.

Sleep Well in German

We all know a good night’s rest is important to awake refreshed and strengthened and start the new day with lots of energy. But many people suffer from sleeping problems. So instead of just saying ‘goodnight’ you can be more specific and wish your friend a good night’s rest by saying “Schlaf gut!”

When you need to be more formal, you can say “Schlafen Sie gut!”

You could also use the phrase “Schlaf schön!”, which literally translates as “sleep beautifully” in English. “Schlaf schön” is a more intimate phrase. You would normally use it for a child or possibly your spouse.

Träum was Schönes! – Sweet Dreams!
— Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay

Sleep tight in German

There is no literal equivalent for “sleep tight” in German, so you could use “schlaf gut” again.

But if you are talking to a child or possibly an ill person, you may say “Jetzt musst du ganz fest schlafen!” (“Now you need to sleep tight!”) This phrase emphasizes the soothing and healing effect sleep can have on us.

Good Night and Sweet Dreams in German

Especially children often wake up from nightmares and then they often end up in their parents bed, where they feel secure and protected. But grown-ups are also often troubled with bad dreams, especially when they feel stressed or after they have had some traumatic experience.

But dreams can also be nice and they are an important tool for our brain and our soul to sort themselves out. And of course we all prefer the nicer dreams and that’s what you wish your friends as well. You may wish a German speaking person “Süße Träume” (sweet dreams in English) and he or she will understand what you mean. But it’s not very common. Germans rather use the phrase “Gute Nacht und träum was Schönes!” (“Good night and dream something beautifully” in English)

Good Night Kiss in German

One of the aspects of the German language many learners struggle with, is the concatenation of several separate words to form one long new word. The good night kiss is a good example. The translation is literal, but instead of three separate words, we end up with one word, the “Gutenachtkuss!”

good night in german - gute nacht
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Bedtime Story in German

Kids all over the world love to hear a story before they fall asleep. So their parents read them stories from children’s books. And even many grown-ups love to use an app on their phone to listen to some audio books while drifting asleep. The proper word for this kind of story in the German language is the “Gutenachtgeschichte” (goodnight story).

How to say Go to Bed in German

Every parent knows that kids often don’t want to go to sleep. But they also know that the kids will be grumpy and moody the next day, if they don’t get enough sleep. So we send them to bed. German kids aren’t any different of course, nor are German parents. So they tell their children, “Geh ins Bett!” Or they might say, “Geh schlafen!” (go to sleep). A less strict form would be to tell them to prepare themselves for bedtime. “Mach dich fertig fürs Bett und putz dir die Zähne.” (Make yourself ready for bed and brush your teeth.)

Regional Expressions for Good Night in German

Different regions in Germany have different dialects. Some of them are pretty close to the “High German” (Hochdeutsch) you learn in school. The people in the north are usually easier to understand, with the area around Hannover known to be the people speaking the purest form of “Hochdeutsch.” But Germans from Hamburg or Berlin are also pretty close.

The further south you go, the more prominent become the dialects – with Saxonian and Bavarian probably being the “heaviest” ones. Most people will switch to Hochdeutsch when they realize you can’t understand them. But when they speak with friends and family, you might get the impression they don’t speak German at all!

All of these dialects have words and phrases unique to them. Or they use some words in a slightly different form. Luckily for our “good night” the deviations are rather mild.

In Northern Germany our usual “Gute Nacht” is the most common expression. Sometimes shortened to “Gut Nacht!” or just “Nacht!” as Northeners don’t like to talk as much as people in the South.

A rare version is “Luscher schön!“, which stems from some forms of Plattdeutsch, the regional dialect of the North. But “luschern” can also mean “to peep“, so you should only use that phrase when you heard it being used by the locals first.

Southern Germany has a bit more to offer when it comes to good night phrases. In Bavaria you are likely to hear “Guad’ Nacht” or “Guats Nächtle!” In Baden you can hear the Alemannian version “pfuus guet” (sleep well). Saxonians on the other hand are a bit more sarcastic and bide you good night with “Schnarch guud!” Which literally translates as “snore well!

How to say Good Night in German in Austria and Switzerland

In Austria you might hear the “A guats Nächtle” we already know from the South of Germany. Another variation is “Guat Nacht.”

In Switzerland people say “Schlof guet” or “Guäts Nachtli.” In Alemannian areas you can also hear the expression “pfuus guet” also in use some parts of southern Germany.

breakfast in bed

The next Morning

What do you say the next morning, after you wished your friend a good night in German? Here are a couple of phrases:

  • “Guten Morgen! Hast du gut geschlafen?”Good morning! Did you sleep well?
  • “Hattest du eine angenehme Nacht?”Did you have a pleasant night?
  • “War das Bett zu deiner / Ihrer Zufriedenheit?”Was the bed to your (informal / formal) satisfaction?
  • “Was möchtest du zum Frühstück?” – What would you like for breakfast?
  • Möchtest du Tee oder Kaffee?” – Would you like tea or coffee?

So, now you know how to say good night in German and some extra sleep related phrases.
Oh dear, is that the time? I guess it’s time for me to say “Gute Nacht und schlaft schön!”