It’s common for hamsters to sleep longer than other animals. However, if your hamster stopped emerging as frequently as it used to at night, you may be concerned 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.
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, taking shorter naps throughout the day and night to recuperate any energy they expend.
This is vital, especially as hamsters can run several miles per night. Hamsters are small, and their bodies need rest periods to prevent fatigue and sleep-related conditions.
As hamsters adopt a polyphasic sleep-wake pattern, many owners fear something is amiss. However, this sleep schedule is normal if your hamster appears healthy and maintains its usual appetite.
Are Hamsters Nocturnal or Crepuscular?
As many hamsters come out after dark, they’re often mistaken for being nocturnal.
Hamsters are more accurately described as crepuscular, which means they’re active between dusk and dawn. Hamsters are crepuscular for the following reasons:
- Avoiding predators
- Escaping extreme temperatures
- Finding food when it’s dark
Hamsters have poor eyesight and use their smell and hearing to navigate. This means they’ve 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 in captivity.
Wild hamsters must be more adaptable due to living in harsher, more dangerous environments.
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 at night, it’s important to question, “Why is my hamster sleeping so much at night?” if it becomes frequent.
You must also determine whether your hamster’s sleeping or you miss its active hours because you’re asleep. You can check your hamster’s behavior by setting up a night-vision camera.
The most likely reasons your hamster’s sleeping so much include the following:
Hamsters live for an average of 2-3 years. When hamsters reach old age, they deteriorate quickly because they can’t maintain their biological processes like larger mammals.
They don’t live for long before their organs shut down, resulting in death.
You’ll notice that a hamster slows down in the later stages of life, sleeping more than it’s active. Monitor your hamster during this stage to ensure it’s not sick or in pain. Look for these signs:
- Appetite loss
If a hamster is dying or suffering, you may want to consider euthanasia to ease its pain.
If you haven’t seen your hamster for days, there’s a chance it’s already dead.
Hamsters commonly experience health conditions that prove fatal more often than not.
Their small bodies can’t fight off diseases, and their size makes it difficult for vets to operate on them. Health conditions include:
- Heart failure
- Heart diseases, such as polymyopathy, cardiomyopathy, and atrial thrombosis
- Respiratory issues caused by dusty sand or bedding
- Wet tail, which is similar to diarrhea
- Cushing’s disease
Hamsters will sleep more often when they’re in pain and their bodies are fighting off infection or disease. Some medications also make hamsters more tired than usual.
Hamsters can’t distinguish between night and day in busy homes. Specifically, artificial lighting tricks them into believing it’s daytime, causing them to stay asleep longer.
While many owners, particularly children, like to keep hamsters in their bedrooms, it can be too bright for them, particularly if the TV and lights are on.
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 sleep for longer.
Hamsters expend significant energy during their active hours. They spend time:
- Running on exercise wheels
- Foraging for food (which is why it’s a good idea to scatter-feed them)
- Digging tunnels and burrows
- Chewing on objects to file their teeth down
Because they’re small, hamsters sleep for a few extra hours to recuperate their energy.
Pet hamsters don’t hibernate, but cold temperatures can send them into torpor.
This is a condition where they decrease their physical activity levels to survive. It’s similar to temporary hibernation, but some hamsters never awaken.
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.
Problems Sleeping During the Day
Hamsters sleep during the day when we’re awake. While you may not intend to make lots of noise, everyday sounds can prevent them from sleeping when they need to. Noises are created by:
- Talking and shouting
- Dogs barking
- TVs and radios
- Banging of cupboards and doors
- Washing machines, tumble dryers, and dishwashers
If your hamster is exposed to these noises, it’ll sleep during the night.
All hamsters are unique, which means they have different sleeping patterns. While some emerge as soon as the sun goes down, others wake up when they know everyone else is asleep.
It may seem like your hamster sleeps more than usual, but it could be adopting a new sleeping pattern. This isn’t uncommon, especially as hamsters age and tire 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’ll 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 determine if something’s wrong. Most hamsters spend longer periods sleeping occasionally but check for signs of sickness or aging.