Can Turtles Sleep In The Dark?

Can Turtles Sleep In The Dark

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you ask around, you will notice different people get different sleeping patterns. Is this the same for the turtles? Do they prefer sleeping in the light? Or can turtles sleep in the dark?

After thorough research and observation, scientists concluded that turtles can sleep while the lights are off. Even the experts claim that the turtles prefer darkness for a sound sleep. The dim light helps these pets relax.

In this following article, you will explore the fascinating sleeping habit of the turtles. Read to the end to find out if turtles can sleep in dark or what the suitable places for turtles are.

Can Turtles Sleep In The Dark?

You already know that turtles can sleep in the dark. Even they will have a better sleep when the lights are off. We humans feel annoyed if someone turns on the light while we are in sleep, right? It works more like an interruption.

The whole thing is similar to turtles. These pets close their eyelids whenever they are feeling tired and need a splash of relaxation. If they are in a dark place, the pet will fall asleep within a few moments.

Experts believe that the darkness calms the turtle’s nerves and helps them relax their muscles. This is why these pets prefer dark places to fall asleep. I have noticed the sleeping pattern of my pet turtles. They often snooze in the dim lights and in the complete dark they go for a complete sound sleep.

Indeed the turtles prefer to sleep in darkness. But it does not mean your turtles will sleep whenever the lights are off. Turtles can see clearly in the dark. So, these pets often move inside the enclosure in minimum light conditions.

Do you have any doubt regarding the turtle’s night vision? Clear your confusion just by clicking here.

Do Turtles Sleep At Night?

Most turtle species tend to sleep at night. In the wild, turtles prepare for night sleep when it starts getting dark. The dark surrounding and chill weather help the turtle get a sound sleep.

You may have noticed turtles walking around the sea beach after the evening. Well, this is possible. I have already mentioned that turtles can see in the dark and move comfortably. Some turtle species find it a good time to search for food. Also, the turtle’s sleep is not like humans. They sleep 4 to 7 hours and from time to time, these pets come to the surface to replenish their lungs.

The turtles choose the nighttime for sleeping because during those hours the temperature drops. At low temperatures, the pets can manage to hold their breath for longer hours. Their oxygen requirements also get limited if the temperature falls even by a single degree.

You will often find your turtle laying on the basking spot closing its eyes even during the day. This is more like resting for the turtles than a sound sleep. Turtles can take rest anywhere inside the enclosure. You have nothing to worry about until the resting sessions become more frequent and the sleep gets longer.

Now, remember that not all turtle species sleep at night. You will find a few exceptional species, like the green turtle. These turtle species are considered nocturnal animals. And so, they prefer sleeping in the daytime. When the darkness falls, the nocturnal turtles become very active.

Do Turtles Need Sleeping Lights?

You already know turtles can sleep in the dark. These pets prefer night time for sleeping rather than the day. So, it naturally comes to mind if you have to install a night light for the aquarium or not.

The turtles do not require any night light in their enclosure. Even the dark environment ensures the best good night’s sleep for the pets. But some turtle owners set up night bulbs inside the enclosure to solve 2 problems. Such as,

  1. Turtle owners install the night bulbs to observe the pet. Sometimes, the turtles tend to escape the enclosure when it is dark. Even I faced this problem several times in my turtle keeping journey. This is more common to the new turtles that you have just bought.
  2. During the winter, you can not keep the heating bulb on at night. The brightness may irritate the turtle’s eyes and it won’t sleep. So, the owners set up a night bulb that does not have any brightness and only provides heat to solve the problem.

 Like many other turtle owners, you can also set up a night bulb inside your pet turtle’s tank. To be honest, turtles do not care if there is a night light or not unless the brightness is leading to anything irritating. You can not use the daylights during the night. Why?

The daylights are brighter and designed to increase the turtle’s activity. You do not want that at night, right? Also, the brightness can mess with the turtle’s sleep cycle. What is the solution then?

Experts say if you want to set up a night light inside the turtle’s tank, go for the blue or red lights. The night viewing lights or infrared lights are best for this purpose. These night lights offer a little or no brightness at all along with a considerable amount of heat. Setting up these lights during the winter keeps the enclosure warm for the pets.

Are you wondering which brand sells the best night bulb for turtles? Check this article to find out all your answers regarding turtle tank bulbs.

How To Create A Proper Night Cycle Inside The Turtle Tank?

Both the day and night cycles are important for the turtles. For the day time, a heating lamp or basking light and the UV bulb is enough. Keep both the lights on for 10 to 14 hours a day. This will ensure good health for the turtles. But what about the night time? How will you create a proper night cycle for the turtles?

At first, allow me to describe the significance of creating the night environment first. Sleep is mandatory for almost all animals and turtles are no different. Without the proper environment, the pets will not get enough sleep. It can lead to sickness, mental stress, anxiety, appetite loss, weight loss, lethargy, fatigue, and so on.

As a responsible turtle owner, you will not want your turtle to suffer just because of the surroundings, right? This is why you should create a proper night cycle inside the turtle tank. But how?

I have mentioned above that turtles prefer sleeping in the dark. In low light conditions, the turtles can close their eyelids and relax their body muscles. On the other hand, the bright lights work as more like an interruption to their sleep. That is why you should keep the tank in a quiet and dark place.

The room light should be off after 8 or 9 pm. Let the turtles relax and sleep on their own. If your turtle prefers to stay active, the darkness will not be a problem. It is because the turtles can see clearly in the dark. The more time they spend in the black, the more their eyes get adjusted to it, enhancing the vision.

You can set up a night light or infrared light. These lights offer little to no brightness along with heat. Also, as these bulbs do not irritate the turtle’s eyes, the sleep cycle of the turtle stays the same. This is totally optional and I have discussed the turtle night light in my previous section.

The pets will do just fine even without a light at night. But the basking and UV bulbs are mandatory during the daytime. Never compromise with that. Also, turn those lights off after the evening.

You know low temperature helps the pets stay longer underwater. A fall in temperature slows down the metabolism of the turtles. As a result, their oxygen requirements decreased. This will provide the turtles a continuous sleep.

Most experts suggest lowering the water heater temperature by a certain degree at night. But it does not mean you have to make it cold. If you lower the temperature by a considerable amount, the turtle might prepare for hibernation. So, keep the water heater on even at night.

A dark place, quiet environment, and a warm water temperature, that is all you need to create a night cycle for the turtles. Professionals approve of this model. But of course, there are exceptions.

Like people, turtles can build up habits. I have seen turtles sleeping peacefully in the full bright areas with the chaos going on in the background. If the owner forces this routine on the pet, they will get adapted to it. I guess I do not need to describe how much it can affect the turtle’s health in the long run.

I recommend you place the turtle tank in a quiet area. Switch off the lights at a certain time at night. If you need to observe the pets, use those night viewing lights without disturbing them. You can cover the tank with a lid because some turtles have a tendency to break out of the tank in the dark.

Where Do Turtles Sleep?

A sound sleep is not completed without the perfect environment. You may know that each turtle has its own favorite spot for sleeping. Apart from that, most turtle species sleep underwater.

The map turtles sleep comfortably among the low vegetation at the bottom of the tank. On the other hand, painted turtles, red eared sliders, mask turtles, mud turtles prefer burying themselves with mud or sand while sleeping. Sea turtles sleep either in the deep water or in the gap of rocks or corals at the seashore.

So, each turtle has its own sleeping style. I have noticed my turtles going to their sleeping spots when I switch off the lights.

Are you wondering how a turtle sleeps underwater? Read this article to clear your thoughts.

How Long Do Turtles Sleep?

The sleeping hours of a turtle vary depending on the species, age, and environment. The pets can sleep between 4 to 7 hours with several breaks. A hatchling is more active than the adult ones. So, these babies will sleep less.

Experts believe, if you can provide a warm and dark tank to the turtles, they will get a good sleep. Also, do not make noises to disturb the pets. Find out how turtles can spend 4 to 7 hours underwater by clicking here.

How To Wake Your Sleeping Turtles?

I personally recommend not to wake your sleeping turtle unless it is sleeping too much or it is an emergency. Each turtle wakes up in a different way. For example, some turtles wake up when you switch on the light. Others may take a short nap even when there is brightness.

Some owners wake their turtles by soaking their shell with a damp towel. Turning on the heating lamp and UV bulb will also work. Again, some turtles wake up all by themselves when their sleep is complete.

It will take some time for the just woke turtles to get back to normal life. So, do not force your turtles to do activities right after their sleep. Rather leave the pets alone and cope with everything.


Turtles are amazing creatures and their habits are quite interesting. They sleep in the dark and prefer it that way. As a responsible owner, do not fail to provide the pets the best sound sleep they deserve.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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