Do Turtles Sleep?

do turtles sleep

Just like any other animal, turtles also need rest. We usually feel sleepy when we are tired and needs a rest. Similarly, turtles too feel tired roaming around, exploring, swimming and hunting for their prey. So they do save some time from their daily routine to take rest.

If you are a turtle owner, you need to maintain a day-night cycle. That means the lights of the turtle’s aquarium need to be on for 10-12 hours each day and off for 10-12 hours each day. This follows the natural cycle of the day and needs to be maintained every day.

Now you must be wondering whether the turtles sleep or not? Keep reading to get all your answers to this article.

Related Article: How To Know If Your Turtle Is Happy?

Do turtles sleep?

Yes, turtles do sleep. However, Their sleep is not like other animals. When turtles sleep, they go in a state of rest. Some turtles find a hidden place to stay safe from predators and be in a particular position and stay still. Most of the aquatic turtles find a spot underwater and remain submerged the whole time they are asleep. They can stay for a long time underwater without drowning.

If you find your turtle is underwater in a static position, it’s very normal. Do not try to wake up the turtle. If you wake them up, there is a possibility of them panicking. They will gradually wake up, so do not bother them while asleep.

How long does a turtle sleep?

Turtles sleep for around 3 to 5 hours. However, different conditions trigger different behaviour in turtles. This also depends on the temperate you keep your turtles in.

North American turtles can even breathe underwater, such as painted turtles and musk turtles. They remain perfectly still underwater as they sleep. The freshwater turtles, such as the map turtles, bury themselves in a marshy patch of grass to sleep.

The oxygen level in the water is very important for turtles to sleep longer. Make sure the tank is large enough, and it has a water filter installed so that there is enough oxygen in the water for the turtles to sleep at night.

Related Article: Do Turtles Yawn?

How do turtles sleep?

Different species of turtles have different ways to sleep. Some turtles sleep underwater, while some pick a secluded spot. These turtles then stop moving around and assume a particular posture, usually withdrawing into their shell for protection during downtime.

For example, Freshwater turtles bury themselves in sand or mud at the bottom of the pond to sleep, absorbing oxygen from the water. In northern areas snapping turtles hibernate for months. During all this time, they burrow in mud or shallow water.

Sea turtles can sleep on the surface of the water when far out on the ocean deeps. They wedge themselves under overhanging rocks to rest in shallow water. While sleeping, their metabolic rate slows, enabling them more efficient use of oxygen which helps them remain submerged for hours.

Box turtles mostly prefer deep caves and holes to sleep. Box turtles often use decaying tree stump holes, but some dug their caves to sleep. Box turtles hibernate through the winter. Hibernation is a form of deep sleep wherein all of its metabolic process slow down. This enables them to live longer.

How long can a turtle sleep underwater?

Turtle can sleep underwater for 4 to 7 hours. They have a slower metabolism and can hold their breath for a longer time, enabling them to sleep even longer. Some aquatic turtles can even draw oxygen they need from the water.

Most sea turtles occasionally surface during their sleeping hours to take in oxygen, then go back underwater to continue their slumber. Turtles like painted turtles, musk turtles, mud turtles, and map turtles often sleep underwater and can go without breathing for more than 5 hours.

When do turtles sleep?

Most turtles are diurnal and sleep at night. The turtles are diurnal because they need UVB lights which they can absorb during the day. They tend to take naps during the day while basking.

To create a regular pattern of sleep in your pet turtles. You need to turn off the lights in its habitat at night. There are a few turtle species that are nocturnal, such as green turtles & snapping turtles which means they sleep during the day and are active at night.

Do turtles sleep in their shells?

Yes, turtles sleep in their shells. They retract into their shells to sleep. They do this to protect themselves from predators. They have hard shells to shield themselves. However, sea turtles have soft shells retracting into them does not provide protection.

To help your turtle have a peaceful sleep, you can turn off the lights at night, provide them clean water and keep a comfortable temperature for them.

Why is your turtle always sleeping?

This perhaps maybe because of age. The older turtles prefer to sleep a lot compared to juvenile turtles. However, excessive inactivity is often due to temperature. If the temperature in your tank is too low, then the turtle might sleep longer than usual.

The temperature should be between 75 Fahrenheit to 80 Fahrenheit for baby turtles. For Adult turtles, the temperature should be between 70 Fahrenheit to 75 Fahrenheit.

If your turtle keeps on sleeping even at the correct temperature, it might be a cause of concern, and you need to consult a veterinarian.

Why is your turtle not sleeping?

Turtles like to take rest during some hours of their routine. But if your turtle is not sleeping at all, you need to consider some important factors.

  1. Make sure that the temperature is not too hot. If the tank temperature rises for some reason, the pet turtle will not prefer sleeping.
  2. Ensure that the tank is not provided with too many lights and does not appear very bright. This can disturb their sleeping cycle. 
  3.  Keeping the lights on all the time, even at night, can badly affect their health, leading to sleep deprivation in turtles.
  4. Do not make loud noises around the turtle’s enclosure during sleeping hours. The turtle does not like too much noise and might not sleep.

How to create a sleeping environment for turtles?

If your turtle is not sleeping, they might not be happy with their enclosure. Below are a few things which you should be following to give your turtle a comfortable sleep:

  • Make sure to turn off the lights at night.
  • Make sure that the tank water temperature is not too low. 
  • Keep the turtle tank in a noise-free place.
  • Use clean water inside the water tank. 
  • Plant small vegetation and rocks inside the enclosure. 

This will help the turtle have a sound sleep at night, keeping it healthy and fresh.


If you are a turtle owner and wants to see your turtle healthy, you need to ensure that the turtle has a sleeping pattern. Make sure that your turtle is not sleep deprived or not sleeping excessively. Different species of turtles sleep in different ways. Most turtles sleep underwater for 4 to 7 hours. Turtles prefer sleeping in their shells. They retract into their shell to sleep except for sea turtles, as they have soft shells. Turtles do this to protect themselves from predators. Most turtles are diurnal and sleep at night. You need to provide them with a nice environment to sleep well and remain healthy.