How Long Do Ducks Sleep?

There’s a lot to learn about ducks! You might know that they can fly like most birds and that they spend most of their time in the water, but you may still be wondering – does a duck sleep? The answer is yes. In fact, ducks sleep quite a lot!

Sleep is an essential part of the human process, so it only makes sense that ducks need to rest as well. In this article, we’ll talk about how ducks sleep, their sleeping patterns throughout the different seasons, where they sleep, when they sleep, and creating the perfect sleep environment for pet ducks.

How Long Do Ducks Sleep?

Ducks are among the most active of bird species, but like everyone else, they do need to sleep. 

Ducks spend a significant amount of time snoozing. They can manage with just two to three hours of napping if they have to. Ducks seem to be asleep most of the time and they will also sleep in many different positions: standing on one foot, lying down with their head under their wing or lying on their back.

On an average day, ducks will spend about 10 hours asleep in various periods of light sleep. However, they can sleep for up to 19 hours when resting after a long period of strenuous activity—like after a long migratory stretch, but generally, ducks are capable of surviving on less sleep than you might think. 

The reason ducks need less sleep in one stretch is because they are able to enter REM (rapid eye movement) more quickly than most other birds. This is the type of sleep humans need to feel rested, but it takes us much longer to reach. 

Ducks are able to enter REM sleep much more quickly.

Where Do Ducks Go During the Winter?

Ducks are migratory birds, so they have to adjust their sleeping habits and patterns according to the seasons. When the temperature drops, typically ducks will fly south to find warmer weather. This allows them to maintain a healthy sleep and eating schedule, as they often sleep more during colder weather. 

When ducks migrate during the winter, they sleep in trees so they can conserve body heat, but when they migrate during the fall, they sleep on the ground. Wherever they end up sleeping, it’s almost always in a group. 

During the day, ducks also find different areas to rest in; for instance, some will hide among bushes and weeds, while others sleep floating on the surface of a pond or lake. 

Can Ducks Really Sleep with One Eye Open?

Like some other bird species, ducks are able to sleep with one eye open. This allows them to remain alert while they get some much-needed rest. But how can they get rest while remaining alert?

This seems confusing to humans because we can’t imagine sleeping while keeping watch for predators, but ducks’ brains operate quite differently. 

When a duck goes to sleep, one half of their brain is able to remain fully functional while the other half rests. This is why one eye can be left open to watch out for potential threats.

This type of sleep is called unihemispheric sleep. 

Sometimes, when ducks are resting in large groups, they will take turns keeping watch while the others rest. The ones keeping watch for predators will sleep with one eye open, allowing the other ducks to rest completely with both eyes shut. 

How to Create the Perfect Sleep Environment for Pet Ducks

While some wild ducks roost on land and others sleep floating on water, pet ducks tend to prefer the comfort of cuddling up beneath a soft, warm blanket. 

Pet ducks are, most often, creatures of habit. So, if you really want to make sure they’re happy and get enough sleep, be sure to give them a spot to sleep, and leave it there. They need to feel safe to sleep with both eyes closed, so if you have cats and dogs, provide your pet duck with a crate or cage kept well out of reach from the perceived threat of your other pets. 


In this post we’ve explored how long ducks sleep, the different ways in which ducks sleep, and the best way to make sure your pet duck gets enough sleep.