While we sleep, a hamster is getting ready for the night ahead. Many owners dislike the noise levels of hamsters at night, while others would like to spend more time with their pets.
It would be easier for all concerned if we could adjust a hamster’s sleep schedule so it’s the same as ours.
Hamsters are accustomed to dark and quiet at night, so create these conditions before awakening them. A hamster could be grumpy and less tolerant than usual so it’ could’s more likely to bite.
Keep the hamster awake through play and interaction, but allow a tired hamster to nap.
Most hamsters prefer to wake up at sunset and go to bed at sunrise. However, you can train a hamster to sleep overnight and remain awake by day, but it’ll take time and persistence.
Are Hamsters Nocturnal?
Hamsters are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk.
A hamster will rarely be seen during daylight hours, only emerging once the sun goes down. Toilet and snack breaks will happen, but these appearances will be fleeting.
This can be a problem for some people that keep hamsters as pets. Many of us consider hamsters good starter pets for families and children, but an active and noisy small animal after dark isn’t ideal.
That’s why some owners attempt to reverse the sleep cycle of hamsters. If a pet hamster can be trained to stay awake during the day, it’ll sleep at night.
Why Do Hamsters Sleep During the Day?
To understand why hamsters sleep during the day, we need to consider their life in the wild.
Hamsters hail from hot desert climes. During the day, this territory is too hot for hamsters to forage for food openly, so they wait for sundown when it’s cooler.
As small prey animals, hamsters need to be constantly vigilant about threats. By day, hamsters are a potential meal for wild snakes and birds of prey.
Hiding out until the evening is considerably safer, as many of their predators sleep at night.
That doesn’t mean that the night’s safe for wild hamsters, as there are still owls and big cats. At night, hamsters are likely to surface to find food and water before returning to the sanctuary of cover.
Captive hamsters will embrace these instincts and sleep by day.
What Time of Day Do Hamsters Wake Up?
As mentioned, hamsters are crepuscular, so they usually awaken around sunset. The exact waking time will vary depending on where you live and the season.
A hamster instinctively feels more active when it’s dark. This is due to their circadian rhythms, which are the opposite of humans. While we awaken when the sun emerges, hamsters prefer darkness.
This means a hamster is likely to sleep more during summer and rise earlier in the winter.
Can You Change a Hamster’s Sleep Pattern?
A hamster’s instincts will always be to sleep during the day and be active at night.
There are advantages to teaching a hamster to sleep at night rather than during the day, including:
- You’re less likely to be disturbed by running on a wheel and rattling cage bars at night.
- Deep cleaning a hamster cage is easier when you have the sun’s rays to dry the cage.
- You’ll have more time spare to play with your hamster.
Unfortunately, you’ll interfere with the hamster’s instincts and circadian rhythms. You’ll understand if you’ve ever worked shift patterns, as it means you sleep by day and work at night.
However, you can change the sleeping schedule of a hamster. If you still find yourself asking, “how can I make my hamster sleep at night?” follow these guidelines:
Give your hamster time to settle into your home before you start adjusting its sleep schedule.
After bringing the hamster home, let it keep its usual sleep schedule for at least a month. Use this time to build a bond with the hamster.
If it trusts you, attempting to reverse a hamster’s sleep schedule is more likely to succeed.
Before the hamster rises, ensure it has everything it needs in its immediate vicinity, including a running wheel, snacks, and water.
The circadian rhythms of a hamster seek out darkness. Dim lighting tells hamsters it’s time to wake up, and bright lights encourage them to sleep. So, draw any curtains or pull any blinds in your home.
Avoid playing music or having the TV too loud, as the hamster will be used to quiet at night.
Wake The Hamster Up
Once you’ve set up the area for a hamster, it’s time to wake it up. The hamster will be fast asleep during daylight hours and prefer to remain that way.
Should You Wake a Sleeping Hamster?
Hamsters are sweet, docile, and adorable pets.
One of the exceptions to this rule is a hamster that has been unexpectedly roused from a deep sleep. In these instances, hamsters can be grumpy and aggressive.
If you suddenly awaken a hamster, you’ll likely be bitten. The hamster won’t understand what’s happening and instinctively react based on fear. As prey animals, hamsters demonstrate fear through aggression, and attack is the best defense.
Hamsters have good hearing, so loud, sudden noises will frighten them. As per Behavioral Neuroscience, hamsters can also be deafened by loud noise.
In addition, waking a hamster unexpectedly can expose them to stress.
How to Wake Up a Hamster Without Scaring it
If you’re going to get a hamster to wake up, avoid doing so through touch. Instead, slowly bring your pet hamster back to the world of waking.
Gently rattle your hamster’s cage bars with a teaspoon. This will create vibrations that will gently rouse a hamster from its slumber.
If this doesn’t rouse a hamster, gently blow in the hamster’s face or hold a favored treat close to its nose. The scent of food will be a pleasant way to come around from a deep sleep.
Keep The Hamster Active
So, the hamster is active during the day. If you want a hamster to remain awake and actively seek to be awake during the day in the future, you’ll need to make it worthwhile.
Actively engage and play with the hamster, allowing it out of its habitat to explore and interact with the world around you. Provide things to climb, scavenge, and destroy.
Don’t be surprised if your hamster starts yawning and gets tired quickly while playing outside the habitat. You can’t expect a hamster to immediately spend 12 hours active during the day. So, encourage this interaction in small, controlled bursts.
If the hamster shows little interest in activities and wants to get back to sleep, allow it to do so.
Hamsters will adapt to a reserved sleep-wake cycle, spending more time awake each day until they become diurnal. Just prepare yourself for some challenges along the way.
There are benefits to reversing a hamster’s sleep cycle, but they’re only relevant to human owners. Hamsters are happiest following their instincts, sleeping away the days, and being active at night.