Why Do Zzz Mean Sleep – Origins and Meaning of the 💤 Symbol for Sleep

Why Do Zzz Mean Sleep

Do you know why the letter Z is used to represent sleep? It’s one of those things that we see all the time but never really think about.

The origins of this symbol are actually quite interesting, and they can be traced back to a comic from 1903!

You know it is the symbol that hovers above one’s head while they are sleeping. 💤💤💤

Is there a symbol for sleep?

We live in the world of emojis – the answer is a resounding yes! The sleeping symbol, or “zzz,” is a series of three Zs that represent sleeping, snoring, dreaming, or any other sleep-related state.

It eventually became a universal representation of sleep, no longer needing any explanation, and is recognized worldwide.

So, if you’ve ever wondered about the history behind this ubiquitous symbol, read on!

Why Do Zzz Mean Sleep?

💤 is an onomatopoeic representation of snoring, and is typically used in response to someone telling you a boring fact or story. It suggests that the speaker is sending the listener to sleep. The letters ZZZ have been used by comic artists since at least 1918, but the origin of the phrase is unclear. It is thought that the Zs represent the sound of a saw cutting through a log, which is often described as sounding like snoring. In addition to being used to indicate that someone is sleeping, ZZZ is also used to indicate boredom or to joke that something is so boring it has put the listener to sleep.

ZZZ is now often seen written as zzz and in various other forms of capitalization, with a varying number of Z’s (such as ZzZzZ ) and is used in texting and other written communication to refer to sleeping or boredom.

Why do we use z to represent sleep?

One theory as to why ‘z’ was chosen is because it is the most fitting onomatopoeia to represent the sound of a snore, since sporadic gargles and heavy breathing are difficult to universally translate.

Unicode code for sleep symbol

It was approved as part of Unicode 6.0 in 2010 under the name “Sleeping Symbol” (U+1F4A4) and added to Emoji 1.0 in 2015.

Other symbols related to sleep include:

Symbol nameUnicode symbol
alarm clock symbol
bed symbol🛌
hot beverage symbol
hotel symbol🏨
koaly symbol🐨
low battery symbol🔋
person in bed symbol🛌
sleepy face symbol😪
teacup without handle symbol🍵
thought balloon symbol💭
yawning face symbol🥱
zzz symbol of sleep💤
Symbols related to sleep

The use of the letter “Z” to represent sleeping is likely also due to it being the last letter of the alphabet, as well as comics and linguistics colliding to capture non-human noises using the alphabet.

Sleeping emoji: copy and paste

Would you like to share in social media that you are bored? Or sleepy?

  1. Select and Copy the Sleeping Symbol Emoji from here: 💤 or 😴
  2. Paste the Sleeping Symbol Emoji to social media

What is the origin of zzz meaning sleeping?

The origin of the use of three Zs to represent sleeping dates back to years.

origin of zzz
Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
Creator: Rudolph Dirks
  1. In 1852, Henry David Thoreau wrote about “the dry z-ing of the locust”.
  2. In 1903 when the comic strip Katzenjammer Kids used the three Zs to show an old man asleep in a hammock, that the association between the letter and sleep began. The letter Z was thought to sound similar to the sound of a saw cutting through a log, which was often described as sounding like snoring. Over time, the letter Z became linked permanently to represent sleeping.
  3. Around 1918 the American Dialect Society formalized the use of “Zzz” as an onomatopoeic representation of snoring.
  4. Comics and cartoons of the time used the letters to signify when a character was asleep due to the limited space that was available in the comics.
  5. By the 1930s, multiple Zs were frequently used to represent sleeping, and in later cartoons like Peanuts and Garfield, only one giant “Z” was used instead.
  6. Although some comics, like Dagwood, used “SKNXX-X” to show loud snoring, and Japanese cartoons used three bubbles, the idea of Zs to denote sleep had become widely accepted.
  7. According to comics even superheroes need some sleep: Batman microsleeps and Odin needs some Odinsleep.

It became so popular that it soon spread to other forms of media, such as idioms like “catching some z’s” meaning sleeping.

What do Zzz mean?

1. Z for Sleep

The word Zzz is often used to symbolize sleep. Sleep is a periodic state of physiological rest – the art of doing nothing – during which consciousness is suspended and metabolic rate is decreased.

It is also used to describe a period spent sleeping, a state of quiescence or dormancy, or even a poetic or euphemistic word for death.

Zzz is commonly used when people are referring to catching some sleep or dozing off, such as in expressions like “catch some z’s” or “zzz” indicating that someone has fallen asleep.

catch some z's
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2. ZZZ for Sleepiness

💤 is often used to indicate sleepiness. It is sometimes used in a humorous way to indicate being tired, but it is primarily used to signify someone having fallen asleep.

3. Z-z-z for Snoring

Snoring is a common breathing problem which can be caused by many factors such as age, weight, alcohol and allergies and can be a sign of a more serious disorder called sleep apnea. It occurs when the airway becomes blocked and the person is unable to breathe properly. Zzz is also a representation of snoring.

It is commonly used in media where sound effects are not an option, notably in comic books, to indicate that someone is asleep or snoring. Snoring can be problematic, as it can lead to lack of sleep and health issues. However, with proper treatment, it can be managed and improve the quality of sleep.

4. Slumbering with Z’s

Z is a sound-imitating word for places where there is no sound possible – like comics. Funny isn’t it? In English, the phrase is used to describe slumbering or napping. It is also commonly used as an emoji or emoticon to represent someone sleeping or dozing off.

5. Unconsciousness zzzzz

zzzzz also means some kind of unconsciousness which is a state of reduced or absent awareness of the environment, one’s own thoughts and feelings, and any physical sensations. Mental events, such as sleep or a trance-like state, can also produce a diminished awareness.

6. Napping zZzZzZ

In slang, it can be referred to as a catnap, forty winks, shuteye or zizz. Taking a nap can help with alertness and productivity, as it can provide a much-needed rest during the day.

It is common to hear people say they need to “get some shuteye” when they need to take a nap. People often use sleeping symbols or emoticons such as “zzz”, “💤” to represent the need for sleep.

weighted blankets snoring
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7. Hypnogogia

Hypnogogia is a state of consciousness in which the mind is in between wakefulness and sleep. It is characterized by a mix of semi-lucid and dream-like thoughts and experiences. It is during this state when the body relaxes and one can experience a range of phenomena, including vivid imagery, hallucinations, and lucid dreaming.

💤 is a representation of snoring and is used to indicate that someone is in a deep state of sleep, possibly in a hypnogogic state.

8. Dreaming

Why do we dream? Dreaming is the experience of having a series of thoughts, images, and sensations while sleeping which helps you analyze your memories. It can be a vivid experience that may feel real and can include emotions and cognitive processes, such as problem-solving.

9. zzz meaning in game

zzz is often used in gaming to mean “I’m tired of your stupid crap.” It suggests frustration or disbelief in response to a teammate’s blunder. It is onomatopoeic and used to represent when someone is bored AF.

10. zzz is a valid Scrabble word

ZZZ is also a valid Scrabble word and is used to represent sleeping or boredom in texts and other written communication.

How to pronounce zzz?

ZZZ is not actually pronounced in any way, it is more like a symbol rather than a word or sound. When pretending to be asleep, people usually add a heavy snoring sound to create a more humorous effect. It is typically spelled with a varying number of “z’s” and is a prolonged sound.

For example, it could be written as “z” or “zzz” or ZzZzZz

Example: After the long and boring lecture, everyone in the room was snoring away, and all you could hear was the sound of “ZZZ” echoing from every corner.

What is Onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia is a literary device that refers to the use of words that imitate or suggest the sound of what they describe. In other words, it’s when a word sounds like the thing it represents or is associated with.

For example, “buzz” imitates the sound of a bee, “crackle” imitates the sound of fire, and “meow” imitates the sound of a cat. It is commonly used in everyday language. It can help create vivid and sensory descriptions and evoke specific emotions or moods.

There are many famous examples of onomatopoeia in literature and popular culture. Here are a few:

  1. “Crash” – the sound of something colliding or breaking
  2. “Tick-tock” – the sound of a clock ticking, often used to represent the passage of time
  3. “Splash” – the sound of something hitting water
  4. “haha” – Laughing

Onomatopoeia for sleeping

Some onomatopoeic words for sleep include:

  1. Snore – imitates the sound of someone snoring
  2. Zzz – imitates the sound of someone snoring or sleeping.
  3. Doze – imitates the sound of someone dozing off or nodding off to sleep
  4. Lull – as in the sound of a gentle melody or rhythm
  5. Snooze – imitates the sound of a light, peaceful sleep
  6. Hush – imitates the sound of quietness and calmness associated with sleep


The most common symbol for sleep

The Washington City Paper did a thorough search and found that 💤 became the most common symbol for sleep in comics. Over time, it has become recognized in different languages, such as Japanese, even in countries that do not use the Latin alphabet.

How is the “zzz” sound used in American dialect?

The letter Z has been used to indicate a buzzing sound and later as a representation of snoring or deep sleep. This is most often seen in comics but is also used as a text symbol for sleep or to imply that someone has been put to sleep by something boring (such as a book).

All in all, the “zzz” sound has been an integral part of American dialect for centuries and is still used today to represent snoring and sleep.

How has the meaning of “zzz” changed over time?

The letter Z has been associated with sleep and snoring for many years. The earliest references of the letter Z being used to represent snoring dates back to at least 1918. Over time, this sound became associated with sleep in general, and is still mainly associated with snoring today.

As time has passed, the association of the letter Z with sleep has remained largely unchanged. However, its meaning has grown to include a representation of tiredness or boredom in addition to sleep.

What does zzz mean in text?

“ZZZ” is commonly seen in texts, social media messages, and other forms of written communication to represent sleeping or boredom. It is derived from an idea of a saw cutting through a log, which is often described as sounding like snoring. It is typically used as a response to someone telling you a boring fact or story, suggesting that they are sending you to sleep.

What does ZZZ mean in slang?

ZZZ is now often used in slang texting and other written communication, in social networks like Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc., the most common meaning of ZZZ is “sleeping or bored”.

Zzz is a slang in the texting community, it means “I’m so tired i might just kill over from boredom“.

For example: This class is so boring Zzz.

💤 meaning from a girl?

Getting 💤 from a girl can be interpreted as her wanting to take a break bcause, or to take some time to herself. It can also mean she is tired and needs some rest, or she has nothing to do. In either case, it’s a sign that she needs a break or some time away from her current situation


By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.