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How Long Can A Tortoise Sleep? [Hours Per Day + Patterns]

(Last Updated On: September 10, 2022)

It may seem that tortoises are always sleeping. If your tortoise appears to be asleep constantly, you may feel concerned, but it’s normal for tortoises to rest a lot.

Tortoises have a diurnal sleep schedule, so they’re awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark. They also have a monophasic sleep schedule, sleeping for about 12 hours without awakening.

Baby tortoises sleep for 19-22 hours per day to assist their development.

Tortoises that sleep excessively may have the wrong temperature and light levels in their enclosure, but some basic adjustments will address that problem. Sometimes, sleepiness is due to illness or stress.

When Do Tortoises Sleep?

Tortoises sleep when it gets dark, as they have a diurnal sleeping pattern. However, tortoises can’t tell the time, so they determine night and day based on the amount of light entering their enclosure.

Tortoises that live outdoors will naturally fall asleep when the sun goes down. Indoor tortoises will fall asleep when their UV lamp is turned off and wake up when it is turned on again.

If it’s housed at the right temperature and with the right exposure to UV light, a tortoise will naturally sleep in the late evening and be awake during the day.

Why Is My Tortoise Sleeping So Much

A tortoise should sleep during the nighttime, but there are reasons why it may sleep for longer:


Sleep is important for growing tortoises, as it takes a lot of energy to develop into an adult. Baby tortoises will sleep as much as 22 hours a day, depending on their species.

When the baby tortoise grows and matures into a juvenile tortoise, it should transition to a diurnal sleep schedule, only sleeping during the nighttime.

do tortoises sleep with their heads in?

Temperature Is Too Low

Tortoises rely on light to determine when to sleep, but they also rely on the temperature. When temperatures are too low, you may notice your tortoise sleeping more often.

Tortoises need a warm habitat with a basking spot, which can be achieved with a heat lamp or a UV lamp.

Tortoises won’t mind cooler temperatures in the evening, but temperatures can get too cold, so monitoring the nighttime temperatures is essential.

If the nighttime temperature gets too cold, there are many options for heaters that don’t emit light, such as ceramic heat emitters and heat mats.

Incorrect Lighting

Tortoises use lighting cues to determine when they should sleep. However, some habitats don’t have enough lighting, use the wrong type of light, or use their lights incorrectly.

You’ll hear about UV lamps the most when setting up a tortoise’s habitat. UV light is important for a tortoise’s health but provides little visible light.

Visible light is how tortoises determine whether it’s night or day. So, set up an enclosure with both UV light and visible light in all parts of the habitat.

According to the Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery, UV light is vital for tortoises’ health. UV light provides vitamin D3, essential for preventing metabolic bone disease (MBD).

Tortoises also use UV light to signal behavioral changes. Some owners also believe that UV makes their tortoises more active and brightens a tortoise’s shell colors.

Switch off any light bulbs after 6-9 months. UV bulbs are notorious for burning out regularly, but there’s no current workaround for this problem.

Don’t wait to replace the bulb until it completely burns out. A bulb will output less UV light long before it stops working. If you replace the bulb too late, your tortoise may not be getting the UV light it needs.

Lights can also be a source of heat for a tortoise’s enclosure, which is ideal since light and temperature are two main factors for a tortoise’s sleep schedule.

However, UV lights may not generate enough heat, and not all basking lamps generate UV. It’s best to use a combination of lights or a mercury vapor bulb.

Winter Season

Tortoises exposed to natural sunlight will have a sense of the seasons.

In the winter, your tortoise will naturally fall into brumating patterns. If you notice your tortoise getting less active in the winter, it may be preparing for brumation.

Brumation is the term used for hibernating reptiles. It’s when they’ll stop eating food and sleep until the temperatures become warmer again.

Tortoises will naturally get sleepier during wintertime. However, if you notice your tortoise becoming less active, you might want to check your tortoise’s light and temperature.

Brumation can be a difficult time for tortoises if their owners are ill-prepared. According to Veterinary Record, researchers noted a 7.78% mortality rate of brumating captive testudos.

Remember that you’re trying to recreate summertime for your tortoise. So, ensure that its habitat receives enough light and is warm enough for your tortoise to stay comfortable.

Disease And Illness

Tortoises need more rest when sick. If your tortoise is sick, expect it to sleep more than usual. You should also expect a sick tortoise to appear less active, so it may appear lethargic and weaker than usual.

If your tortoise is sick, take it to a vet for examination and treatment. After treatment, your tortoise is likely to still be sleepy and tired. Allow your tortoise to rest, and it should return to its active self.


Stress can make a tortoise feel more tired and groggy, causing it to sleep longer.

Reasons for stress are wide-ranging but include the following:

Once your tortoise’s needs are met, you should notice that they have a healthier sleeping schedule.

Should I Wake My Tortoise Up In The Morning?

You can safely wake up a tortoise in the morning. However, it’s best to let your tortoise wake up naturally to ensure that it feels rested and won’t be startled.

Of course, you shouldn’t need to wake your tortoise in the morning. A healthy tortoise will naturally wake up by itself if the enclosure’s temperature and light levels are optimal.

Sometimes, a tortoise may oversleep, miss meals, and not drink enough water. If this happens, wake your tortoise. It must stay fed and hydrated, especially if it’s unwell.

Check your UV lamp and temperature levels if your tortoise is healthy but regularly oversleeping. Your lamp may need replacing, or you may need to tweak the temperatures. Otherwise, check to see if your tortoise is sick, and bring it to the vet if necessary.