Why Is My Hamster Always Sleeping?

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If you’ve recently acquired a hamster, you are bound to be interested in anything and everything they do, but their sleeping habits are frequently a source of confusion and sometimes worry.

There are a few different reasons why your hamster might sleep a lot, and these include: 1) it’s daytime, 2) they are too cold, or 3) they are unwell.

Of these potential explanations, you don’t need to worry about the daytime one, but you should pay attention to the other two as they are a sign that something is wrong with your hamster or its environment, and you need to make a change.

If you feel like asking the question why is my hamster always sleeping, you should check whether your expectations about its sleeping habits are realistic, and then make sure there is nothing wrong.

If you’re going to keep hamsters, it’s important to learn as much as you can about them, and this includes getting a good understanding of their sleeping patterns, as well as more obvious things like what they eat.

A hamster living in a cage may not behave exactly as wild hamsters do, but you also can’t expect them to take on habits that suit their owners, and your hamster might not sleep the hours you expect it to.

Is It Normal For A Hamster To Sleep All The Time?

Hamsters shouldn’t sleep all the time, but they do sleep a lot, and if you’re a new pet owner, you might feel like your hamster seems to sleep too much. You want them to wake up, bounce about, and have fun, but all they want to do is snuggle in a ball and nap.

If your hamster is sleeping during the day, you don’t have anything to worry about; hamsters are nocturnal or at least semi-nocturnal and are rarely awake during the day.

Even a healthy hamster can sleep for long periods of time, and while you might want them to wake up, don’t worry that they’re sick just because they sleep a lot.

How Much Sleep Does A Hamster Normally Need?

It can be hard to measure how much your hamster is sleeping if you’re out during the day, or even if you’re getting on with other things. 

Unless you sit with a pen and paper and record the hours in which it sleeps and wakes up, you may not have a good idea of how many hours of sleep a hamster needs – and not many people are going to do that!

The amount of sleep your hamster needs will depend to some degree on the individual hamster. Some are much more active, while others seem to want to nap all the time. Their age can also affect how much they sleep, as can the sleep habits of any cage-mates.

This means that if you have a lone Syrian hamster, its sleep patterns may vary compared with a pair of dwarf hamsters, which may disturb each other, or snuggle up for shared naps. Equally, baby hamsters often sleep for long periods when they are very little.

As a hamster owner, you’ll probably get used to your individual pet(s)’ quirks, but on average, most hamsters sleep 6-8 hours in 24 hours, and most of those hours will be got during the day.

Hamsters probably won’t sleep for a solid 8 hours, but they will usually retreat to their burrow for an extended period of time during the daylight hours. You might see them pop up, check out their cage, perhaps grab a bit of seed, and then go back for another rest.

That’s perfectly normal, and as long as their sleeping patches add up to approximately 6-8 hours in total, you can relax; your hamster is doing fine!

What Time Are Hamsters Usually Awake?

There has been much debate about when hamsters are most active, and hamster owners will probably notice that individuals have rather different habits, which may change over time. For a long time, it was generally believed that hamsters were nocturnal animals and would rarely be found sleeping at night, as that was when they collected their food.

This belief partly came about because hamsters are prey animals, and generally use the cover of darkness to avoid being hunted. Their chances of being snatched up by a hungry bird in the middle of the night are slim.

However, many people now believe that wild hamsters are naturally crepuscular, which means that they are active at dawn and dusk, rather than in the middle of the night. Hamster sleep schedules are dictated by their environment as well as by their need to hide from predators

In the day, most wild hamsters – which live in hot climates – take advantage of the coolness of their burrows and sleep in them. They are both safe and cool and can emerge when the heat of the day is gone, or before it starts to build the following day. Dusk and twilight are good times for them.

Hamsters take advantage of low light levels to undertake their most dangerous activities outside the safety of their burrows, such as gathering seeds, nibbling fruit, looking for mates, etc. Some people theorize that pet hamsters actually behave differently to wild ones, and are inclined to be more nocturnal in captivity. However, this isn’t proven.

Even though a home environment won’t simulate these factors, your hamster will still maintain its sleep patterns, which are the result of years of evolution. You won’t be able to change them.

You should hear your hamster shuffling around during the night, chewing, rearranging, nibbling, and exploring their cage. If you don’t hear them at all, you may want to check that they aren’t sleeping too much and that they are actually active and moving around.

Is It Bad To Wake Up A Sleeping Hamster?

It’s not a good idea to wake hamsters that are sleeping. Hamsters love a good nap, and your pet hamster will not appreciate being woken up just because you want to play or watch it bumble about its cage.

It might be difficult to resist if it seems like your fluffy friend has done nothing but drift in dreamland for hours on end and you want a bit of companionship, but disturbing your hamster can make it grumpy – just like a person!

Hamsters that are sleep-deprived suffer from high-stress levels, and this can have as much of a negative impact on them as it can on a person. It can cause confusion, problems with performing basic tasks, and memory issues.

Chronic lack of sleep can affect a hamster’s health in the long term and might even shorten its lifespan – so if your furry friend is sleeping, let it sleep no matter how much you want to play!

Make your hamster a cozy den where it can feel secure. Sleeping small animals are vulnerable, and your hamster will sleep better if it feels safe.

Respect this space and don’t disturb your hamster when it goes for a rest; it needs to sleep to stay happy and healthy, and it can’t do that easily if you keep lifting it out of its den. This will make it feel insecure and unhappy even when you aren’t disrupting its rest.

Why Is My Hamster Less Active?

If your hamster is sleeping more than 8 hours on a regular basis, you might have a reason to be concerned. If your hamster is getting too cold, it will try to hibernate, and this is a sign you need to move the hamster’s cage to a warmer location.

This is rarely the case for hamsters kept in houses: remember that wild hamsters cope with the cold all year round. However, they are better adjusted to cold temperatures than pet hamsters and can burrow deep underground with lots of bedding to stay warm.

If you move your hamster to a colder part of the house, make sure you are providing lots of snuggly bedding for them to nest in, and keep an eye on their sleeping patterns to ensure they aren’t trying to hibernate.

If your hamster seems very lethargic, you should also be concerned. Hamsters don’t usually show signs of sickness until they are very sick, so it’s important to pay attention to their behavior, learn their patterns, and know when something is wrong.

A sick hamster might try and hide in their burrow for excessive periods of time, and you should get them to a vet as soon as possible if you’re concerned. Other signs of sickness include weight loss, shedding, heavy breathing, sneezing, etc.

If your hamster is getting a little older, don’t immediately stress out if it is starting to sleep more. It may just be slowing down with age, and need a bit more shut-eye to stay happy. Look for other signs of illness before assuming the worst.


If you’re a new hamster owner, it’s easy to be surprised and even alarmed by how much your hamster sleeps, but understanding their habits and what drives them should set your mind at rest.

Get to know your hamster’s patterns and make the most of their awake time; set aside a space in your evening or early morning, as that’s when they’re most likely to be active. You can get lots of playtime in and enjoy the pleasure of watching them collect up their seeds, play with each other, burrow, and explore – in short, be hamsters!

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Tom Derbyshire

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