How Do Turtles Sleep?

It is easy to catch cats, dogs, rats, and even chickens sleeping, but one thing we are curious about is how turtles sleep.

Before we venture into that, let us briefly tackle how sleep is essential to many organisms.

We can observe sleep in organisms ranging from flies to humans.


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It is necessary for a living being. One reason is that sleep helps boost the body’s energy level.

Sleeping for animals also reduces its activity, acting as an adaptive mechanism to hide from predators.

Why do Turtles sleep at night?

To better understand the reason, many turtles are diurnal animals, meaning they sleep at night.

They are active during the day to scrounge their food, bask in the sun, or float on the water surface, and discover their mate.


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Unlike us humans, sleeping for turtles is more of a resting phase kind.

Sleep patterns of different turtles vary from species to species.

Because of their unique environment, the turtles develop various sleep patterns.


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They need to rest during the night, hidden in a corner where they are sure no predator can take advantage of their sleeping time.

Sometimes, aquatic species of turtles sleep during the daytime while basking in the sun when they are far out in the ocean.

This only happens, though, when they are sure there are no predators around.

How and Where?

Turtles close their eyes when they sleep.

The vast majority of them stop moving around and usually tuck themselves into their shells for assurance and protection.

Depending on where they live, they will pick a secluded spot.

They may cover-up in the middle of rocks or under rocks and corals when submerged and even on the base of little lakes where their predators cannot easily reach them.

So, when you see turtles that cover themselves in mud, sand, or debris at the shallow part of the pond, it means they are sleeping.


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Some freshwater turtles can extract oxygen from the water, allowing them to spend more time, even a couple of months, underwater.

In the event of some unique species like the sea turtles, the scenario is quite different.

They live much of their lives out in the ocean; therefore, they sleep submerged in water.

They only need a couple of moments on the surface of the water to fill their lungs with enough oxygen, and afterward, they can last for a long time deep in the water.


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The turtles save energy when they sleep, so they only use a bit of the oxygen stored in their lungs.

This mechanism then extends their time submerged to a few more hours before needing to refill their lungs with oxygen on the surface.

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