Sleep A Wink, to not

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Not get a wink of sleep
Not have a wink of sleep

Meaning of Idiom 'Not Sleep a Wink'

To not sleep a wink means to not sleep at all; to fail to fall asleep or get any sleep. 1,2


This idiom is always used in the negative. One never says "I slept a wink." As well, it is almost always used in the past tense. To hear "he is sleeping a wink" would sound odd. Instead, we say "he is asleep" or "he is sleeping."


"The kids never sleep a wink on Christmas eve."

"This interview has got me so anxious I couldn't sleep a wink last night."

"I'd like to go out later but first I need a nap. I haven't slept a week in the last 24 hours."

"He didn't get a wink of sleep before his trip, and sleeping on the plane was impossible."


First recorded around 1325.

The word wink alludes to closing your eyes for sleep. 2

1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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