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Home » Answers to the Most Common Questions about Hamster Sleep

Answers to the Most Common Questions about Hamster Sleep

Hamsters are adorable little animals, especially when they’re sleeping. But sometimes they exhibit odd or unusual sleeping behavior that may have you asking questions.

That’s why in this exhaustive article, we’ve covered all of the most common questions about hamster’s sleeping habits. Including typical sleeping habits, odd locations to take a snooze, unusual sleeping behavior, and most importantly, how to get your hamster to fall asleep on you.

There’s a lot of information in this article, so to make it easier, we’ve included an interactive table of contents to help you navigate the wealth of knowledge provided below.

So feel free to click to the section that interests you or start from the top! We promise it’s all good information.

Table of Contents

    Hamster Sleeping Habits

    We often expect hamsters to be fairly consistent with their sleeping habits. Realistically, how weird can a hamster be when it comes to sleeping? Well you may notice a few odd or new sleep behaviors that warrant some questioning.

    Why is my hamster sleeping more than usual

    In this section, we’ll answer the most common questions about some odd sleeping habits that you hamster may have recently adopted.

    Why is my hamster sleeping more than usual?

    Hamsters love to sleep. And their owners generally love to watch hamsters sleep because they’re adorable. But if you’ve recently noticed your hamster sleeping more than usual, you might start to wonder why.

    The first thing you should know about hamsters and their sleeping habits is that they are nocturnal animals. That means they will sleep during the day and be awake during the night. Now, that’s important because you may think your hamster is sleeping more than usual or sleeping all the time, but they might be awake when you’re asleep and vice versa.

    But if you’re sure that’s not the case, there are a few reasons why you’re hamster may be sleeping more than usual:

    • Getting older
    • More activity than normal
    • Heart disease
    • Another serious illness

    The first two possibilities are relatively harmless. Your hamster may just be getting older or getting more activity time and thus they’re more tired. You should monitor your hamsters behavior over time to keep an eye on other possible issues. That brings us to the next step.

    Sometimes sleeping more than normal can highlight a serious health issue. If your hamster has been sleeping more than usual for a few weeks and they’re not old or not doing a lot of activity, it’s probably time for you to call the vet. Especially if they’re not eating either.

    Only your vet is qualified to make a diagnosis on your hamster’s sleeping habits and overall health. If you’re worried that they’re sleeping too much and it doesn’t seem natural or healthy, make an appointment. They can give your hamster a check up and listen to your concerns to potentially diagnosis a health issue.

    Why does my hamster sleep all day and night?

    Hamsters only need about 6 – 8 hours of sleep each day. They sleep all day because they are nocturnal, but it’s often a misconception that hamsters sleep all night as well. What often happens is that hamsters sleep all day when you’re awake. And then they wake up when you’re going to bed.

    As a result, there’s not a lot of overlap between your waking hours and your hamster’s waking hours. So before you assume a serious health condition or worse, try setting up a camera to record your hamster’s cage during the night. Are they actually sleeping all night? Or are they up for 3-6 hours? If so, they are perfectly healthy.

    If the camera records them sleeping all night as well, that may be a sign of a health issue. Hamsters do need sleep, but not a ton of it. If they’re sleeping more than 12 to 16 hours a day, you may want to get them checked out at the veterinarian.

    How to make your hamster not nocturnal?

    As mentioned earlier, hamsters are nocturnal animals. That means they sleep all day and are awake at night. They do this because of a few reasons:

    • Fewer predators at night
    • Avoiding extreme temperatures during the day
    • Using the darkness as protection from nighttime predators

    First, in the wild they are hunted by other animals

    Most predators are out during the day. So if you’re not a predator, it’s safer to be out at night. As a result, most hamsters prefer to do their daily living and foraging at night when most predators are asleep.

    Now, there are probably no predators in your home with the hamsters, but the hamster doesn’t know that. Evolution has taught them that it’s safer to be out at night and it’s hard to break the spell of evolutionary thinking.

    But that is a big reason why hamsters are generally nocturnal.

    Second, they can avoid extreme temperatures during the day

    It’s much healthier and better living for them to do their foraging and living when it’s not as warm outside.

    Third, they can find food and other essentials when it’s dark out

    Related to the first bullet point, hamsters prefer darkness because they feel safer and it’s easier to hide from any potential predators.

    Now, that’s why hamsters are nocturnal. And it’s all for good reason. Their evolutionary behavior taught them that being nocturnal is safer and preferred.

    But if you’re trying to make a hamster not nocturnal, there are a few things you can do:

    • Make their cage darker during the day and light at night
    • Feed them during the day
    • Take them out during the day
    • Make sure the temperature is a little colder during the day

    The general gist of this recommendations is to trick the hamster into thinking day time is night and night is day. You don’t want to change their behavior of feeling safe at night, just switch day and night and they should become less nocturnal.

    But one very important thing to mention is that you should never wake up a hamster while it’s sleeping. This is not healthy and can cause adverse effects to their health and wellbeing. Just try to make them think the day is opposite for them and they should become less nocturnal.

    Hamster Sleeping in Odd Places

    Why is my hamster sleeping in their food bowl

    While we all love the occasional nap in an odd position or place, sometimes you might have questions as to why your hamster is doing that. In the following section, we’ll discuss why your hamster may be sleeping in odd or unusual places.

    Most times there’s no reason for concern, but sometimes it can indicate a change that needs to be made. Now let’s start with one of the most common questions.

    Why is my hamster sleeping in their food bowl?

    Taking a nap in their food bowl is no reason for concern. Hamsters like sitting in their food bowls when they eat and it’s very likely that they just decided to take a nap there.

    As mentioned earlier, hamsters are nocturnal animals that do their food collection at night. For most animals in the wild, collecting and storing food is an important part of their daily life. As a result, they’ve become conditioned to be protective and appreciative of their food.

    This is why you may see your hamster eating from and even sleeping directly in their food bowl. They feel comfortable with the food, want to keep it around, and sometimes just get so lazy after a meal that they decide to take a nap right in the bowl.

    There’s no reason for alarm or concern if your hamster is sleeping in their food bowl. Often times they were just too lazy to move after a meal, especially if that meal consisted of delicious fruit.

    Why is my hamster sleeping out in the open?

    Sleeping out in the open is sometimes normal behavior for a hamster and doesn’t indicate anything wrong. There are likely a few reasons why your hamster may be doing this:

    • They get too hot in their home
    • Condensation in their igloo home
    • They went to the bathroom in their normal bed
    • Their typical nest is filled with food and not enough space to sleep
    • They feel safe sleeping out in the open

    The most common reason that hamsters sleep out in the open is because their typical home or nest gets too warm. If the weather is getting warmer or you’ve turned up the temperature in your home, it may be more comfortable for your hamster to sleep outside of their igloo.

    This is especially common with those little plastic igloo huts. Those shelters are great at keeping in warmth, which is good for the colder months. However, in the Summer sometimes it can get to hot and your hamster decides to cool down by sleeping outside. That warmth can also lead to condensation on the inside of the igloo.

    Finally, check their typical nest for potential issues like they used it as a bathroom or there’s too much food and not enough space. Sometimes hamsters aren’t the best at staying organized and clean. If this is the case, some reorganization and light cleaning can get them sleeping back in their normal spot.

    Otherwise, your hamster may just feel safe sleeping in the open. This is a nice sign and can indicate a healthy and comfortable living situation for them.

    Why does my hamster sleep in a tunnel?

    Your hamster may sleep in a tunnel because it is a safe space away from a potentially dangerous or frightening environment outside the tunnel.

    As mentioned earlier, hamsters are nocturnal animals so they can avoid predators. At its core, that really means hamsters are generally scared animals. And when they get scared they hide.

    So if your hamster is sleeping in the tunnel, which is not their common spot, they may be frightened or afraid of something. Have you changed anything in their environment? Are there loud noises? Did you get a new pet that is frightening your hamster?

    If so, your hamster may have moved to the tunnel to hide from their new, frightening environment. Try to make your hamster feel safe by reducing any of those changes and reverting back to something that makes them feel more comfortable.

    If nothing has changed, your hamster may just feel like not being bothered. And sleeping in a tunnel is a great way to make that happen. Sleeping out in the open or under an igloo that can be easily lifted up is often a “disturb-able” environment. If they’re sleeping in a tunnel, they may just want some more privacy.

    Why is my hamster sleeping in the corner of the cage?

    Hamsters like making little, cozy nests for themselves and the corner of the cages is often the best place to do that. For that reason, there’s no reason for concern if your hamster is sleeping in the corner of their cage.

    When a hamster is first introduced into their new cage, the first thing they will do is build a nest. That nest is generally built from artificial structures in the cage alongside the bedding material. And a nest needs some structure to be really sturdy.

    As a result, the hamsters generally choose a corner of the cage where they can pile up the bedding. And they’ll likely choose a corner that provides the most protection. So if you have the cage set in the corner of the room, the hamster will most likely choose the corner of the cage that coincides with the corner of the room.

    This all goes back to a hamster’s protective behavior. They make nests to feel safe and hide from potential predators. And a corner of the cage makes the most sense when trying to avoid wide open spaces. Your furry friend may eventually move to a more open space, but sleeping in the corner of the cage is very common and no reason for concern.

    Hamster Sleep Behavior

    Hamster shivering in sleep

    Hamsters love to sleep. Or it may just seem like that to you since they are nocturnal and sleep often during the day. But if you’ve noticed some odd behavior, like shivering or twitching, it can be something that needs to be addressed.

    That’s why in this section, we’ll cover two of the most common behaviors that hamsters sometimes exhibit in their sleep.

    Is it bad if my hamster is shivering in sleep?

    Yes, if your hamster is shivering when they sleep it can be a potential health issue. Common issues that lead to shaking are dehydration or a change in their preferred temperature.

    There are a lot of reasons why your hamster may shiver, but shivering in their sleep is an unconscious decision, meaning they aren’t choosing to shiver. That means it’s most likely a health or environmental issue.

    First, check that your hamster isn’t dehydrated. You can do that by pinching the skin on the back of their neck. If it takes more than a second to “fall back down” then it can be a sign of dehydration.

    If it’s not dehydration, it could be a temperature change in their environment. And if your hamster is shivering in their sleep, it is most likely because they are cold. If this is the case, make sure their cage temperature hasn’t gotten any colder. Their preferred temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Is it bad if my hamster is twitching in their sleep?

    It’s fairly common for hamsters to twitch in their sleep due to dreams and other natural behavior. As a result, there’s no need for concern.

    If you’ve ever watched any person or animal sleep, you may notice that sometimes they twitch in their sleep. This is often due to intense dreams and doesn’t indicate any major health issue.

    If your hamster is twitching in their sleep, but otherwise exhibits perfectly normal behavior, then it’s just likely that they’re having little hamster dreams that are getting them excited.

    Getting Hamster to Fall Asleep

    It’s a fact that hamsters are adorable when they sleep. But as we’ve covered in this article, sometimes they don’t sleep as easily or relaxed as we would hope. But there are some things you can do to help your hamster fall asleep.

    How to get your hamster to sleep on you?

    How to get your hamster to sleep on you

    The most important thing to get a hamster to sleep on you is that you need to make them feel comfortable and relaxed. Hamsters are generally skittish and scared animals and they won’t fall asleep if they don’t feel safe.

    As a result, the best way to get a hamster to sleep on you is to make them as comfortable as possible.

    Sometimes they can include hand feeding them, making a comfortable nest with your shirt or blanket, or gently stroking their head until they fall asleep.

    Whatever you can do to make your hamster feel comfortable and safe is what you should do if you want them to sleep on you.

    How to put a hamster to sleep in your hand?

    The best way to get your hamster to sleep in your hand is to hold them and stroke their head gently until they fall asleep. You may have to try this quite a few times for your hamster to get comfortable in your hand, but eventually they should.

    And similar to getting a hamster to sleep on you, getting a hamster to sleep in your hand as all about making them feel comfortable and safe. Whatever you can do to make them feel at home, will help them feel safe and fall asleep in your hand.

    And don’t try to force it. Eventually your hamster will safe, but if you try to hard or force them to stay, that will likely only increase their anxiety and reduce the chances of them falling asleep.

    Additional Reading

    If you’re interested in doing more reading about general hamster sleep behavior, their schedules, or why they sleep they way they do, check out the following articles:


    We hope this article has been useful. It has certainly been lengthy and full of useful information! Hamsters are adorable when they sleep, but sometimes their behavior can raise questions. That’s why we wrote this article. To help you unravel the mystery of unusual hamster behavior and reduce your worries.

    Most times hamsters exhibit odd behavior is because of their natural instincts that conflict with a more domestic environment in a cage. But that doesn’t mean the behavior is harmful. Many times it’s just your hamster adjusting to their new environment.

    Hopefully this article has answered your many questions and can help resolve any lingering concern you have about your hamster and their sleep.