Why Does ZZZ Mean Sleep? – Vitaldiol
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Why Does ZZZ Mean Sleep?

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The English language is a curious thing—chock full of strange quirks and interesting idiosyncrasies. To make things even more complicated, language constantly evolves. Hundreds of new words and phrases get added to the dictionary every year

Sometimes, the phrases and idioms we use become so ingrained in our subconscious, we don’t even question why or how we’ve assigned them specific meanings. Like, why do we say “break a leg” when what we really mean is good luck? 

At some point, we began to associate the letter “z” with sleep, but have you ever wondered why? 

What Does ZZZ Mean?

what does zzz mean?

In literature and pop culture, the letter z is often used to depict someone sleeping. Most typically, this is done with three z's back to back ensconced in a dialogue bubble above the sleeping character. You’ve likely seen this at least a few times in a comic book, the Sunday funny papers, or even in an internet meme.

There aren’t any hard and fast grammar rules for how the three z’s should be depicted. You may see a capital Z followed by two lower case z's (Zzz), all capital Zs (ZZZ), all lower case z's (zzz), z's without hyphens, and z's with hyphens (Z-Z-Z). While the most common formulation is made of three z's, some writers and illustrators may choose to use multiple z's (ZZZZ) or even just a single z to indicate sleep. 

Why Does ZZZ Mean Sleep?


It can be challenging to depict a character sleeping with only the simple static image and caption available in the print cartoon or comic strip medium. As a result, cartoonists had to develop an innovative way to convey sleep. 

The successive z's is an onomatopoeia—words, or in this case letters, intended to sound like the thing they refer to. Words like bang, bark, and slap are all other forms of onomatopoeia. In the case of z, the sound the letter makes is intended to sound like the low drone of a person snoring when pronounced out loud. 

When Did ZZZ Become A Symbol For Sleep?

grasshopper sleeping

So how did z become the official sound of snoring? One of the first instances of the letter z being used onomatopoeically comes from Henry David Thoreau. The American naturalist’s journals from 1837 to 1846 make reference to "the dry z-ing of locusts." While this doesn’t quite tie into sleep, it does set a precedent for the letter z’s sonic quality. 

The term modern usage as a way of depicting sleep really started to take hold around the turn of the 20th century with the proliferation of political cartoons. However, the exact origin of the practice remains unknown. 

Today, It’s become so common that it’s even inspired new idioms, like catch some z's, meaning to go to sleep.  

How The Rest Capsule Can Help You Catch Some Zs

Crying face with sleep disorder

Want to catch some z's yourself, but find it difficult falling asleep at night? You’re not alone. Nearly 70 million Americans suffer from some form of a sleep disorder. Fortunately, there are ways to help you hit the hay. 

Prescription sleep aids can be very addictive and often come with unpredictable side effects, but these aren’t the only solution. Vitaldiol’s Rest Capsules combines two natural ingredients commonly used to combat sleep disorders—melatonin and hemp-derived CBD. 

Each capsule contains 5 mg of melatonin and 35 mg of CBD isolate and is formulated to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Try just one capsule one to two hours before bedtime, and see the difference this plant-based remedy can make the overall quality of your sleep. Possible side effects include nausea, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness. As always, consult your physician before beginning a new supplement regimen to ensure it won’t interfere with any existing treatment. 

Don’t let insomnia ruin your nights just because you want to avoid pharmaceutical treatment options like hypnotics and benzos. See what plant power can do for your sleep schedule today!


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