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Why Is My Hamster Sleeping More Than Usual?

(Last Updated On: May 28, 2022)

It’s common for hamsters to sleep longer than other animals.

However, if your hamster’s stopped emerging as frequently as it used to at night, you may feel concerned that it has a health problem.

Hamsters sleep more than normal due to old age, excessive activity, heart disease, wet tail, Cushing’s disease, and pyometra.

Also, torpor presents itself similarly to hibernation, but it’s more dangerous.

If your hamster suddenly starts sleeping more than usual, monitor it to assess its health.

Hamsters that stop eating or drinking may have a disease or health condition, many of which are treatable if detected sufficiently early.

How Long Do Hamsters Sleep?

Most hamsters sleep for 12-14 hours on average. This seems like a lot, but hamsters prefer to sleep multiple times a day, taking shorter naps spaced throughout the day and night to recuperate the energy they expend.

This is vital, especially as hamsters can run up to 6 miles in one night. Hamsters are only small, and their bodies need multiple rest periods to prevent fatigue and sleep-related conditions. 

Because hamsters adopt a polyphasic sleep-wake pattern, many owners fear that there’s something wrong with their pet. However, this sleep schedule is entirely normal, as long as your hamster otherwise appears healthy and maintains its usual appetite. When hamsters start sleeping more often, it can signify aging or sickness.

Are Hamsters Nocturnal or Crepuscular?

There’s some confusion regarding whether hamsters are crepuscular or nocturnal.

Hamsters are commonly considered nocturnal, but they’re more accurately described as crepuscular, which means they’re active between dusk and dawn. However, because many hamsters come out well after dark, they’re often mistaken for being nocturnal.

Hamsters are crepuscular because:

  • They need to avoid predators
  • It allows them to escape extreme temperatures
  • They can find food under cover of darkness

Hamsters have poor eyesight, so they use their smell and hearing to navigate. This means they’re adapted to living in darkness and have evolved to be very good at it.

Interestingly, Biology Letters explains how female golden hamsters are exclusively diurnal. However, this doesn’t reflect the crepuscular behavior of hamsters kept in captivity.

Wild hamsters have to be more adaptable due to living in harsher, more dangerous environments.

why is my hamster sleeping so much at night?

Why Does My Hamster Sleep So Much?

While it’s not uncommon for hamsters to sleep longer some days, especially if they’ve been active during the night, it’s important to question, “why is my hamster sleeping so much at night?” if it becomes frequent.

You must also distinguish between whether your hamster’s sleeping or whether you miss its active hours because you’re asleep. You can make sure your hamster’s behaving normally by setting up a night-vision camera.

The most likely reasons your hamster’s sleeping so much include:

Old Age

Hamsters live for an average of 2-3 years. When hamsters reach old age, they deteriorate quickly. That’s because they can’t maintain their biological processes as well as larger mammals. They don’t live for long before their cells, organs, and tissue start to shut down, eventually resulting in their death.

While this is normal, you’ll notice that your hamster significantly slows down in the later stages of life, sleeping more often than it’s active. Keep an eye on your pet during this stage to ensure it’s not sick or in pain.

Look for signs of:

  • Appetite loss
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Aggression

If your hamster’s suffering, you may want to consider euthanasia to ease its pain. Similarly, if you haven’t seen your hamster for days, there’s a chance it’s already dead. Check your hamster’s burrows for signs of life.

Health Conditions

Hamsters commonly experience health conditions that prove to be fatal more often than not. Their small bodies can’t fight off diseases or larger animals, and it’s difficult for vets to operate on them because they’re tiny.

Health conditions to watch out for include:

  • Heart failure
  • Heart disease, such aspolymyopathy, cardiomyopathy, and atrial thrombosis
  • Respiratory issues caused by dusty sand or bedding
  • Wet tail, which is similar to diarrhea
  • Pyometra
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Tumors
  • Poor genes

Health conditions can occur at any stage of a hamster’s life, but they most commonly occur later.

Hamsters will sleep more often because they’re in pain and their bodies are fighting off infection or disease. Some medications also make hamsters more tired than usual.

Artificial Lighting

As explained, hamsters are crepuscular. However, in busy homes, they can fail to distinguish between night and day. Specifically, artificial lighting tricks them into believing it’s daytime, forcing them to remain asleep for longer.

While many owners, particularly children, like to keep hamsters in their bedrooms, it can be too bright for them – particularly if the TV’s on at the same time as lights.

Hamsters should ideally be in a separate, quiet room that replicates natural conditions, encouraging them to come out once the sun goes down.

In extreme cases, hamsters can become unwell if exposed to constant lighting. According to Ohio State University, hamsters can become depressed, which is why they go to sleep for prolonged periods.

Conserving Energy

We’ve mentioned how hamsters expend significant energy during their active hours. They spend time:

  • Running on their exercise wheels
  • Foraging for food (which is why it’s a good idea to scatter feed them)
  • Digging tunnels and burrows
  • Grooming
  • Chewing on objects to file their teeth down

Because they’re only small, they sometimes need to sleep for a few extra hours to recuperate their energy. It can be worrying when hamsters don’t adopt their usual waking pattern, but you mustn’t disturb your pet.

Torpor

Pet hamsters don’t hibernate, but cold temperatures can send them into torpor.

This is a condition where they decrease their physiological activity levels to survive. It’s similar to a temporary hibernation, but many hamsters never wake up.

While in torpor, hamsters breathe far more slowly than normal and become unresponsive. They appear dead, but more often than not, they’re in a deep sleep.

Temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 degrees Celsius are dangerous for hamsters, particularly when exposed to them for prolonged periods.

Owners must keep their hamsters warm to prevent torpor and ensure they’re comfortable within their enclosure.

why does my hamster sleep day and night?

Problems Sleeping During the Day

Hamsters sleep during the day when we’re up and awake. While you may not mean to make lots of noise, everyday sounds can prevent them from sleeping when they naturally need to.

Problematic noises are created by:

  • Talking and shouting
  • Other pets, particularly dogs barking
  • TVs and radios
  • Banging of cupboards and doors
  • Washing machines, tumble dryers, and dishwashers
  • Doorbells

If your hamster’s exposed to these noises for too long, they’ll sleep during the night where they can get peace and quiet. Unfortunately, this isn’t natural for them, and it can affect their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Personality

All hamsters are unique, which means they all have different sleeping patterns.

While some emerge as soon as the sun goes down, others prefer to wake up when they know everyone else in the house is asleep.

It may seem as if your hamster sleeps more than usual, but it could be adopting a new sleeping pattern. This isn’t uncommon, especially as hamsters age and get tired more quickly.

Why Does My Hamster Sleep Day and Night

While changing sleeping patterns isn’t necessarily anything to worry about, it’s not normal for hamsters to sleep all day and night. You should see your hamster emerge throughout the night, even for a few hours.

You might also want to provide more enrichment to encourage your hamster to come out at night. Hamsters thrive on mental stimulation and enjoy having different textures and substrates to explore.

If your cage is too small or there’s not enough for your hamster to do, it will be more inclined to sleep throughout the day and night because there’s no reason to wake up. This is a sign of depression.

Pay attention to your hamster’s sleeping pattern, as it’ll enable you to identify when something’s wrong. Most hamsters spend longer periods sleeping occasionally but look for signs of sickness or aging.