Do Turtles Sleep?

Turtles are truly wondrous creatures that have a few key differences from us that we need to account for when caring for them. One of the most crucial parts of most creatures’ life cycles is the sleep cycle.

Sleep allows us to rest and recuperate, and it’s a crucial biological process in every living creature that does sleep.

If you’re looking to create a pleasant environment for your turtle to live in, then you’ll need to know a bit more about the relationship between turtles and sleep.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at whether or not turtles sleep, and we’ll also explore a few related details that any turtle owner should know.

Do Turtles Sleep?

Yes, turtles sleep, and it’s just as necessary for them as it is for us. One thing to consider is that turtles will also have different sleep schedules that vary from animal to animal. Just like you and your friends may have different sleeping routines, the same may be true of two turtles, even if they’re of the same species.

There are many factors that go into determining how long turtles sleep, as well as how frequently they have to go to sleep.

This is typically dependent on how active a turtle is and how old it is.

At minimum, most turtles should be sleeping for about 5 hours a day to keep themselves healthy.

Here how the turtle looks while sleeping.

How Do Turtles Sleep?

Before your turtle goes to sleep, it will have to make itself comfortable, much like a human being.

Different turtles have different ideas of what they consider comfortable, and the choice that they choose to rest may depend on how the turtle’s body temperature is doing due to their cold blood.

For example, if a turtle is feeling particularly hot, then it may remain on the surface of the water, floating around as it drifts off to sleep.

If a turtle feels like it’s too hot or cold and it’s on land, then it will likely dig itself a hole and then lie down in there before going to sleep so the ground can help regulate its temperature.

Also read -> Can Turtles Live In Cold Water?

Just like human beings, sleeping turtles should remain still and they should have their eyelids closed while they’re resting.

Most aquatic turtles choose to sleep on the surface of the water, though they may sometimes retreat to their basking area so they have a more comfortable spot to rest.

On the other hand, box turtles typically sleep within their shells, remaining on the land where they’re more comfortable.

Most aquatic turtles shouldn’t have any trouble resting on the surface of the water thanks to their slow metabolism, which ensures that they won’t drown while they sleep.

How Many Hours Does a Turtle Sleep?

If you’ve noticed your turtle sleeping more than usual recently, then you may be concerned that there’s something wrong with your reptile.

Unfortunately, there’s no concrete amount of time that a healthy turtle should sleep for, as this can vary based on the conditions in which the turtle is being kept.

As a baseline, your turtle should be sleeping for at least five hours per day.

If your turtle is sleeping less than this, then it runs a risk of exhaustion or other issues that may be brought on by a poor sleep schedule.

However, if your turtle is sleeping longer than five hours, it can be tough to tell if it’s due to an issue.

Most aquatic turtles sleep for between four and seven hours per day, though their land-based cousins need to sleep for longer.

The larger a turtle gets, the more of its time that it will spend sleeping, and it’s not unheard of for some land-based species to spend most of the day resting.

Turtles also rest without sleeping for a lot of the day.

While your turtle may look like it’s asleep while it remains immobile in the corner of its habitat, there’s just as good of a chance that it’s resting. Sometimes, turtles may even nap over the course of a day.

Do Turtles Sleep in Water?

Whether or not your turtle sleeps in water depends on its species.

If your turtle is something like a box turtle, which is a predominantly land-based species, then you shouldn’t see it sleeping in water.

This is because turtles that live on land tend to be far more comfortable when they rest on terra firma.

However, aquatic turtles certainly feel more comfortable when they’re in the water’s embrace, and you may even come across your turtle floating across the top of the water while it sleeps.

There’s nothing to worry about if you see an aquatic turtle floating along as its sleeps due to their long reserves of breath.

Since turtles have a much slower metabolism than humans, they burn their oxygen at a much slower rate, meaning that a single breath will last far longer for them.

Some seagoing turtles can hold their breath for hours, ensuring that they won’t drown while they fall asleep afloat.

On the other hand, pet turtles can often only hold their breath for 15 minutes.

Do Turtles Sleep During the Day?

When your turtle sleeps depends on the habits that it has developed while it has lived with you.

Like us, turtles prefer to go to sleep when it’s dark, and they can’t really see the sunlight from their enclosures a lot of the time, so you may have to create a suitable environment for your turtle.

You’ll want to get your turtle’s sleep schedule established as soon as possible when you get it, but it’s never too late to start fostering healthy habits.

The best way to ensure that your turtle doesn’t sleep during the day is by keeping the lights over its enclosure on during the day and off at night.

That being said, if your turtle looks like it’s tired and it’s resting during the day, you may still want to shut the light off to let your pet rest more comfortably.

It will take time to adjust your turtle’s internal clock and you won’t want to subject it to unnecessary suffering if it’s not adjusting to its new routine.

Why Is My Turtle Sleeping All Day? Is it a Problem?

In most cases, turtles sleeping for a long time shouldn’t be an issue, as it’s up to your pets preference how long it rests.

However, there are times when you should be concerned if your turtle is sleeping for longer periods.

If there has been a sudden change and your turtle has started sleeping for too long, there may be an issue.

On the other hand, if your turtle has always been relatively lazy, then you may have nothing to worry about if it’s lounging around all day.

Another thing to consider is your turtle’s activity levels.

Turtles that are more active will spend more time resting each day so they can recuperate.

Another possibility is that your turtle enclosure is too cold and your turtle has gone into hibernation mode.

Since turtles need to retain their energy in cold weather, they are likely to hibernate if you don’t ensure that they’re living in an enclosure that’s set to the right temperature.

You’ll want to keep the water temperature in your turtle’s enclosure between 70 and 75 degrees F if you want to make sure that your reptile doesn’t go into hibernation mode.

You can also ensure that your turtle enclosure’s water is at the right temperature by using a water heater in the winter months.

Of course, if your turtle keeps exhibiting signs of a poor sleep schedule, it may be time to take your little reptile friend to the vet.

A professional will be able to determine if there’s another issue that’s making your turtle groggy all the time or if it’s just your pet’s laid back demeanor.


Do Turtles Close Their Eyes When They Sleep?

Most of the time, you can expect a turtle to sleep with its eyes closed, though this may vary from animal to animal. If you see your turtle sleeping with one or both of its eyelids open, it may not be immediate cause for concern, as they may end up doing this sometimes.

Do Turtles Like to Sleep in the Dark?

Just like us, turtles prefer to sleep in the dark than in the light, though they can sometimes manage to sleep if they’ve been in the light for too long. However, keep in mind that leaving your turtle’s light on for too long can end up negatively affecting its health.

Can Sleeping Turtles Drown?

Seeing your turtle bobbing at the top of the water while it sleeps may be worrying, but you typically have nothing to worry about if your turtle is aquatic.

This is because turtles can survive for several hours holding their breath, so they likely won’t drown if they’re able to return to the surface upon waking up.


As you can see, turtle sleep pretty similarly to us. We hope that this guide has provided you with all of the info that you were looking for.

Also read

Can Turtles Jump?

Can Turtles See in the Dark?

Why Is My Turtle Floating?


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