Most parrots are diurnal, which means they’re active during the day and asleep at night. That said, it’s not unusual for parrots to rouse at night or nap during the day.
Adult parrots need between 8 and 14 hours of sleep, while babies need closer to 16 hours.
Parrots closer to the equator (African greys and sun parakeets) need 10-12 hours, whereas parrots further from the equator (budgies and cockatiels) need about 8 hours in the summer and 14 in winter.
Although parrots are adaptive and can survive without sleep for quite a long time, sleep deprivation isn’t ideal. Good sleep improves the parrot’s memory, voice, and behavior.
Why Is Sleep Important for Parrots?
Parrots can go longer without sleep than many species, but that doesn’t mean sleep isn’t important.
Moreover, recent research suggests that parrots spend much time in REM (deep) sleep – about the same amount of time as humans.
This means that sleep is likely to have a restorative quality to it. Indeed, sleep helps to support a parrot’s health in the following ways:
During REM sleep (deep sleep), parrots consolidate new memories. So, if you want your parrot to remember new people, games, and phrases, you’ll need to let it sleep deeply.
According to NCBI, baby parrots must get enough sleep to meet cognitive milestones. If parrots don’t meet these milestones, they’ll find it hard to learn survival skills. One of the kindest things you can do for a growing baby parrot is to let it rest.
Sleep improves the performance of adult parrots, too. A study by Nature found that sleep deprivation in birds makes them clumsy at cognitive tasks and harms the quality of their singing/talking.
A strong and healthy immune system is needed to protect against common parrot diseases like Psittacosis and Aspergillosis.
Young African Grey parrots are especially vulnerable to Aspergillosis if they have a weakened immune system. Thankfully, sleep helps build a robust immune system.
Sleep Prevents Destructive Behavior
According to Science Direct, aggressive screaming, biting, and feather-picking increase when a parrot can’t get 10-12 hours of sleep per night.
That’s why one of the first interventions for an aggressive parrot is improving its sleep quality. This makes sense if you consider how cranky we get when we haven’t slept well.
How Many Hours Parrots Sleep
So, we know that sleep is important for parrots, but how much sleep do parrots need at night?
Well, this depends on the species of parrot. Species that live very close to the equator are used to having 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness.
According to Exotic Direct, they’ll probably want to sleep for about 10-12 hours (during the night).
Parrots from Australia and surrounding areas are used to the night times changing based on the seasons (ranging roughly between 8 and 14 hours). Thus, it’s thought that their sleep requirements change when the seasons change.
Here are the average sleep requirements of different parrot species:
|Species (Adult)||Where is it from?||Approx. hours of sleep|
|Sun Parakeet (Aratinga solstitialis)||Equatorial South America||10-12|
|Equatorial South America||10-12|
|Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis Dabbene)||Equatorial South America (Northern Bolivia)||10-12|
|Umbrella Cockatoo (Cacatua alba)||Equatorial Indonesia||10-12|
|African Gray Parrot (Psittacus Erithacus)||Equatorial Africa||10 – 12|
|Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula Krameri)||West Africa, Lowland India, South of Himalayas||8 in summer and 12-14 in winter|
|Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)||Australia||8 in summer and 12-14 in winter|
|Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus)||Australia||8 in summer and 12-14 in winter|
How Much Sleep Do Baby Parrots Need?
Juvenile parrots need more sleep than adult parrots because their brains and bodies are still developing. In the same way that human babies sleep a lot, so too will baby parrots.
According to CELL, scientists have observed that baby birds get more REM sleep (deep sleep) than adult birds. This is probably because REM sleep facilitates development.
Baby parrots need about 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. This sleep must be good quality so that the parrot can enter the REM sleep state.
Do Parrots Sleep Through the Night?
Parrots sleep for hours at a time in a wild setting, typically rousing a couple of times during the night and returning to sleep quite quickly. So, parrots sleep most (if not all) of the night.
Parrots might also take short naps during the day.
However, if a parrot constantly naps during the day or wakes up for long periods, it suggests that its sleep cycle isn’t right. This is often because it’s too light, noisy, or stressful to sleep at night (more on that later).
How Do I Know When My Parrot Is Sleeping?
You can usually tell if a parrot is sleeping because it’ll go quiet and retreat to its sleeping perch. Here are some other things your parrot may do when it’s sleeping:
- Fluff up its feathers to create an air blanket, helping your parrot stay warm.
- Tuck its head into its feathers – some parrots use their neck feathers as a pillow. They’ll turn their head slightly and nestle into their neck feathers for comfort.
- Tuck one foot away – some parrots tuck one foot up inside their feathers so that they’re standing on one leg. Although this might look uncomfortable, it’s a stable sleeping position for parrots.
Do Parrots Sleep with Their Eyes Open or Closed?
More often than not, a sleeping parrot will have its eyes closed.
That said, parrots can sleep with one eye open and one eye closed.
Many birds get unihemispheric sleep. Essentially, birds can switch one side of their brain to sleep mode while keeping the other side awake.
This half-sleep state is useful during long, multi-day flights, helping birds sleep while flying.
Can Parrots Sleep with Lights On?
As mentioned, one of the leading causes of avian aggression is poor-quality sleep. Parrots must be able to sleep in a dark environment since that’s what they’d do in the wild.
A recent study by PLOS Biology found that when budgies were forced to sleep in a lit-up environment, they got half as much sleep compared to sleeping in darkness.
Not only that, but their REM (deep) sleep was massively disturbed by having the lights on.
Budgies that slept in a lit environment were also more hyperactive during the day, which shows that parrots shouldn’t be forced to sleep in a room with the lights on.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that when the lights were off, the parrots were happy to climb branches and sleep higher up in the cage.
However, the parrot only sat at the bottom of the cage when the lights were on. This suggests that the parrots might not have felt as safe or comfy with the lights on.
Is Total Darkness Needed?
Whether total darkness is required for healthy sleep is open to debate.
According to the journal Biologists, it was found that birds chose softly lit environments to sleep in (compared to bright ones or total darkness). This could be because they felt it would be easier to search for food and other resources in (dim) lighting.
Since pet parrots don’t need to constantly search for food, they might not have the same preference for dimly-lit environments.
In any case, many of the lights we use at home are very bright and probably too bright to keep on at night when a parrot is sleeping.
Do Parrots Need Quiet to Sleep?
Some owners keep parrots in the same room where they watch TV in the evening. The problem with this is that if you go to bed later than your parrot, the noise (and light) will be disruptive.
Parrots don’t necessarily need complete silence but benefit from sleeping in a quiet environment.
To ensure your parrot gets a quiet night’s sleep, you can get a sleep cage and keep this in a quiet room in the house – perhaps a spare bedroom. Put your parrot to bed each night around the same time, and you’ll build up a healthy sleep routine for your pet.
Why Is My Parrot Sleeping So Much?
If your parrot is sleeping a lot during the day, it could be because it’s not getting enough good-quality sleep during the night. So, consider how dark and quiet your parrot’s room is at night.
Also, ensure your parrot isn’t just sleeping the normal amount. Remember, certain species may sleep up to 14 hours in the winter, partly consisting of daytime naps.
Another reason why your parrot is sleeping a lot could be due to molting.
You should see your vet if you notice additional symptoms like changes in pee/poop, odd behavior, or your parrot hanging around at the bottom of its cage a lot.
Why Is My Parrot Not Sleeping?
If your parrot isn’t sleeping, check its environment. Consider the following factors:
- Does it have access to a dark and quiet space?
- Does it feel safe in the home?
- Are you fussing over your parrot a lot near bedtime?
- Is the temperature suitable for your parrot?
If your parrot isn’t sleeping well, you’ll probably find its environment isn’t quite right for sleep. Using blackout curtains for darkness or covering the cage at night might be beneficial.
Although parrots can survive without sleep for quite a long time, this kind of deprivation should be avoided. After all, sleep supports memory, cognition, immunity, and psychological well-being.
Try to create a predictable sleep routine and a peaceful sleep for your parrot.