Usually the question "How did you sleep today?" is about the quality of the sleeping or about the position of the sleeping?

In other words, if I read or hear “how did you sleep last night”, what should I understand?


Unless you're a vampire, normally you'd be asked

How did you sleep last night?

The questioner is wanting to know if your sleep was restful or if it was disturbed in any way.

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  • and if he didn't sleep at night but in the day time? By the way, I really didn't understand what you said about the vampire, I'd like to get explain and learn something new:) – Judicious Allure Jan 27 '19 at 11:45
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    If he regularly sleeps during the day and is awake at night (e.g. he works the night shift) then one might ask "How did you sleep today?" But we can't really use today in this context without some kind of special justification for it. A typical question might be How was your nap? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 27 '19 at 11:56
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    Absent a context where the discussion centers on sleep position (fetal position, on stomach, on the back) the question How did you sleep? normally is asking whether you slept well. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 27 '19 at 12:21
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    @Wittyloquacity In what context does asking "in what position did you sleep last night" make any sense? Do people in your culture ask each other about their sleeping positions as small talk? – Moyli Jan 27 '19 at 19:29
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    @Wittyloquacity This sort of misunderstanding can be a source of humour: Q:"How did you sleep last night?" A: "I closed my eyes." or Q: "Did you make your bed?" A: "No, I bought it." – CJ Dennis Jan 28 '19 at 1:51

I may be wrong in what I say, which is based only on my experience of other people’s speech and writing.

First, your question is not fully clear. It might be:-

  1. If I read or hear “how did you sleep last night”, what should I understand?

Or it might be:-

What is the right (or best) way to ask about the quality (or position) of somebody’s sleep.

If we take 1., I would say that under almost all circumstances we should understand the question as one about the quality of sleep. Why? Because in almost all circumstances it is an odd and intrusive question, unless you were a mountaineer halfway up a rock face, or Batman/girl. Also such a silly question might tempt a frivolous answer, such as: “On my back, with my bottom against the headboard and my legs up the wall.”

A more reasonable context might be after a night when neighbours were playing rock all night long at full blast. Then you might wonder

How did you sleep last night?

But if question 1. is the issue, I should say that the most common (and least ambiguous) way of asking it is to say:

Did you sleep well last night?

And if you spent the night under the same roof, and meet up over breakfast,

Did you sleep well? is enough

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