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How Long Do Birds Sleep? Do They Sleep Through The Night?

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zebra finches sleeping

The saying goes that the early bird catches the worm, but does that mean they’re sacrificing sleep to go get breakfast? The truth is that birds tend to sleep anywhere from 10 to 13 hours a day depending on the season, meaning they have no problem getting plenty of shuteye.

But do birds really need that much sleep, and what are the factors that impact how much sleep they get? Furthermore, do birds get all that sleep at night, or do they take naps throughout the day? Let’s dive into all these questions!

hummingbird divider

How Long Do Birds Sleep?

While it depends on the type of bird, most birds sleep anywhere from 12 to 13 hours a day. However, wild birds tend to sleep a bit less during breeding seasons, and it’s common for them to sleep 10 to 12 hours a day instead.

If you have a pet bird, it’s best to induce conditions that let them sleep 12 to 13 hours a day so they never enter a “breeding season,” and it’s less likely that they’ll lay eggs.

If you’re just trying to watch wild birds, that means they should be out of their nest for most of the day!

owl sleeping
Image Credit: zoosnow, Pixabay

Do Birds Sleep All Night?

Unless they’re a nocturnal bird like an owl or nighthawk, most birds go to bed when the sun sets and wake up when it starts to rise. That means they’re diurnal and tend to sleep all night.

While there are a few rare exceptions to this, it’s basically what you can expect from a wild bird. They rely on light to regulate their sleep schedule, so they typically sleep all night.

Do Birds Nap During the Day?

While birds tend to sleep at night, since it isn’t nighttime for 12 hours a day, they need to take power naps throughout the day to get the rest of the sleep that they need.

Birds will take power naps when they’ve met all their needs and feel like they’re in a safe location. This also means they aren’t heavy sleepers, so you probably won’t be able to sneak up on them when they’re dozing during the day.

flamingos sleeping
Image Credit By: Efraimstochter, Pixabay

How Long Can Birds Fly Uninterrupted?

It depends on the bird, but the bird that can stay the longest in the air without landing is the common swift. These birds can stay in the air for as long as ten months without landing, easily earning them the right to claim the longest uninterrupted flight.

They do this by eating and sleeping in the air. While studies on how much the common swift sleeps while airborne are scarce, we can use studies on frigatebirds to give us an idea.

Frigatebirds sleep in short 10-second bursts when they catch a current while flying, but according to Niels Rattenborg, a researcher at Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, this still only adds up to about 42 minutes a day.

This clearly shows that while most of the birds in your backyard might value their nightly sleep, there are at least a few birds out there that don’t need nearly as much sleep.

Should You Cover Pet Birds at Night?

If you have a pet bird, you should absolutely cover their cage at night. There are a few reasons for this, but chief among them is the fact that it helps them adapt to a routine and get enough sleep.

Birds rely solely on light to let them know when it’s time for bed, and in our artificially lighted environments, this rhythm can get out of sync. Covering the cage helps with this, and it gives them a bit of privacy at night and helps them feel safe enough to go to sleep.

While your pet bird is likely comfortable in their environment, having this extra layer of privacy and security will help them get the full night of restful sleep that they need.


With a few exceptions, birds tend to sleep even more than humans. So, while the saying might be that the early bird gets the worm, they also get a full night’s sleep so they have enough energy for the rest of the day.

It’s a lesson that we should all take note of because we also need our sleep if we want to stay productive and healthy every day!

Featured Image Credit: Tiluria, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.