Sleep like a top is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years; it is mostly used in British English. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom sleep like a top, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
To sleep like a top means to sleep soundly, to rest deeply. Sleep like a top is an idiom and a simile, which is a phrase used in a sentence that is a comparison of one thing with something else using the word like or the word as. One may be said to sleep like a top because he has a clear conscience, because he has put in a hard day of work, or simply because he practices good sleep hygiene. The expression sleep like a top has been in use since the 1600s and is an allusion to the fact that when a top is perfectly balanced when spinning, it stays in place. Related phrases are sleeps like a top, slept like a top, sleeping like a top.
I sleep like a top in the comfy, modern four-poster, and in the early morning watch a small mob of kangaroos outside in the garden, a mum with joey in pouch, another little chap just finding his feet, climbing the sandstone steps to nibble on the neatly tended lawn. (The Australian)
Eat peanuts like a squirrel, the tryptophan in peanuts will help you to sleep like a top! (Times of India)
I sleep like a top and have not ever felt in better health. (Financial Times)