Turtle Time-Out: Do Sea Turtles Sleep?

do sea turtles sleep

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In this post, we’re going to take a look at sea turtles, and more specifically answer a question we are asked often: Do sea turtles sleep?

In a nutshell, yes, sea turtles do sleep. In fact, they love to sleep! More on that shortly…

Sea turtles can be found in the oceans all over the world, both cold and warm tropical waters. They can even be found on land, where they lay their eggs.

Let’s take a closer look at the sea turtles’ sleep patterns…

Do Sea Turtles Actually Sleep?

Yes, sea turtles do sleep. They are able to sleep on the surface of the water whilst out in the deep, or they can sleep in the underwater rocks near the shoreline.

Sleeping underwater is one of the safest places for sea turtles to sleep, as they can find rocks that can provide them cover and protection whilst sleeping and help them stay hidden from predators.

However, since turtles need to breathe air, the length of time they can sleep underwater varies depending on the species of turtle.

Many turtles appear to actually sleep during a daily cycle. They will find a secluded spot that they find comfortable, with a constant temperature, and then stop moving.

This becomes a habit much like how we humans sleep during the night, turtles often sleep at the same time and location over and over again.

How Long Do Sea Turtles Sleep?

Sea turtles sleep for a surprisingly long amount of time usually during the day.

Studies on sea turtles have shown that they often rest for approximately 11-hours per day! This is half of their daily routine spent sleeping and resting.

During this time sea turtles spend around half as much oxygen as they do when they are foraging for food, which means they are able to slow their heart rate right down to rest.

They will also change their sleeping habits depending on the amount of light that is present. For example, if sleeping near the shore in shallow waters, the light reflecting onto them will induce a sleeping period.

This is likely to preserve energy, but sunlight doesn’t affect how much sleep a sea turtle will get during the day. As time goes on, the sea turtle will usually migrate further into deeper waters where there is less sunlight.

This helps them transfer into a deeper sleep and get the rest and recovery they need for the following day.

Sleep is incredibly important for sea turtles, it provides them with sufficient energy to be able to reproduce, swim and stay mentally agile.

Do Sea Turtles Sleep On Land?

Sea turtles do venture onto land, the females specifically. However, sea turtles are most often found sleeping underwater or near the surface, and not on land.

The females will venture onto land in order to lay their eggs in the sand. This happens during the spring and summer months and is critical for the survival of the species.

Females will come onto land, bury their eggs for the best chance of their survival, and then head back off into the water.

The water provides a much safer environment for adult turtles, they have a hard outer shell that protects them and they are able to swim at an impressive 35/mkh.

On land, sea turtles are not as capable, meaning they are much more exposed to predators and other dangers that could prove fatal for them.

This is why after they lay their eggs, they head off back into the water for safety, and it’s also why sea turtles don’t sleep on land for fear of predators.

Do Sea Turtles Sleep At Night?

Sea turtles do sleep at night, often found floating near the surface or buried in a rock formation catching some zzz’s.

The sea turtles’ eyes are much more able in bright light during the day, and not quite as effective in the dark, which is why they typically use the nighttime for sleeping.

That being said, some turtles do sleep during the day, with many taking several naps during the day to keep them energized.

Final Thoughts

Sea turtles sure know how to sleep, with an impressive 11 hours a day they spend half of their day resting and recovering.

I suppose if I was swimming around with a large shell on my back all day then I would probably need 11 hours of sleep too!

Sea turtles are built to be able to adapt to nearly any setting when it comes to sleep, whether they want to find a rock formation to sleep under and camouflage themselves against, or they want to float near the surface for a quick turtle nap.

They are capable of both, which is what makes the turtle so versatile and keeps them full of the energy they need to survive in the ocean amongst all of their predators.

Hopefully, this post has been helpful in understanding do sea turtles sleep. They love to sleep, and have plenty of it!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve learned something today, feel free to share it with others who may find it valuable.