Why do I need to know Schlafen wie ein Murmeltier?
Because sleep is essential. It recharges our body and mind, fights disease and strengthens our immunity and metabolism. It’s what makes us feel alive and refreshed every morning. So just like other languages, German has its unique way of appreciating the beauty of deep sleep.
What does it mean?
The colloquial phrase ‘schlafen wie ein Murmeltier’ (or ‘wie ein Murmeltier schlafen’), which sounds like this, translates to ‘sleep like a marmot’. The equivalent in English would be to ‘sleep like a log’ or ‘sleep like a baby’. The analogy might be different but the idea is more or less the same: to experience a very deep and restful sleep without disturbance.
We all understand the metaphor of sleep with a still and motionless log, or with a baby who on average sleeps well over 16 hours a day. So why is it marmot in German?
First of all, marmots are large ground-dwelling squirrels, closely related to the groundhog or woodchuck. But exclusive to Germany are the alpine marmots which live throughout the mountainous European Alps. To survive the extreme changes in weather and food shortages during the winter, alpine marmots developed one of the longest periods of hibernation in the animal kingdom.
They would eat and store up as much fat as possible before hiding in their burrows for the winter. Once there, they hibernate for over nine months where their body temperature and heartbeat drop drastically to preserve energy. The alpine marmots would then wake up from their months-long sleep to the charming warmth of spring. It’s the deepest and most restful sleep anyone could dream of. So, the metaphor ‘schlafen wie ein Murmeltier’ truly lives up to its spirit.
Next time when you think of a good night’s sleep, remember the marmots.
Use it like this:
Ich habe letzte Nacht geschlafen wie ein Murmeltier – fast 10 Stunden lang!
I slept like a log last night – for almost 10 hours!
Er schläft wie ein Murmeltier nach einer sehr arbeitsreichen Woche.
He sleeps like a baby after a very busy week