How Long Do Lions Sleep?

While lions are often celebrated as symbols of courage, bravery, and hard work, you might be surprised to learn that they’re actually incredibly lazy. The term, “cat nap,” makes a whole lot more sense when you understand just how long lions sleep each day. 

Lions sleep enough to make any human envious, and certainly more than your average house cat. If you can believe it, lions sleep between 16 to 20 hours a day, making shuteye their favorite activity. 

In this article, you’re going to learn more about what makes 16 to 20 hours of sleep necessary for the king of the jungle. 

How Long Do Lions Sleep?

As you already know, lions get anywhere between 16 to 20 hours of sleep each day, and sometimes even more. Male and female lions’ sleep schedules differ slightly though. Since female lions typically do all of the hunting and taking care of lion cubs, it’s more common for them to sleep less than male lions. 

This may not seem fair to us, but the lioness’ haven’t complained about their 15 to 18 hours of sleep each day—would you?

It’s more common for male lions to sleep more mainly because they don’t hunt. Instead, they spend their waking hours defending their territory from intruders, such as male lions from other prides (prides are adult male lions that are larger than females and have a prominent mane they usually form a pride which consists of anywhere from 2-40 lions of male, female and cub lions in the pride they will hunt, raise cubs and defend their territory)

If the pride just enjoyed a large meal, it’s not unheard of for them all to enjoy a nice snooze lasting longer than 24 hours in some cases. 

When Do Lions Sleep?

Many agree that lions are nocturnal, as there are plenty of lions that are most active after dark. This allows them to use the cover of darkness, as well as their excellent night vision, to stalk and kill prey. Generally, if a lion is active at night, it will sleep until dusk when the sun begins to go down and the temperature drops, and then begin their nighttime hunting after a nice long rest. 

To say that lions are strictly or genetically nocturnal is an incorrect assumption, or misconception by many. In reality, lions are just opportunistic. The temperatures in Africa can become unbearable during the daylight hours, so instead of hunting, lions often sleep to conserve their energy for when the sun goes down and the hunt begins.

However, because lions are opportunistic hunters, there’s no rule that says they can’t hunt during the day. When food is available and easy to catch, lions will also hunt during the daytime, leaving their long stretches of sleep for later on and well into the night. 

How Do Lions Sleep?

If you have ever seen a lion in person, there’s a good chance they were sleeping. Lions sleep so often that it’s common to find them sleeping, whether in the wild or in a park. You can find all sorts of pictures on the Internet of lions sleeping in various positions too. There’s no standard sleep position like some other animals. Check out our article on How Lions Sleep here

Do Lions Dream?

With all the sleep they get each day, it’s understandable to wonder if lions also have dreams. Most mammals share similar sleep patterns, and their sleep cycles often resemble those of humans. This most often includes two different stages of sleep—REM sleep (rapid eye movement), and deep sleep. 

REM sleep is the stage in which humans have dreams, and because lions spend so much time resting, it’s highly likely that they also experience dreams the same way we do, as they also experience this interesting sleep stage. Deep sleep is also common, as lions are seldom disturbed by elements in their environments while sleeping. 

Where Do Lions Sleep?

Lions are nocturnal animals that sleep during the day and hunt at night. They have a complicated system of sleeping that allows them to maintain an energy-efficient state while they’re asleep. As you know, the average lion sleeps for 16 to 20 hours a day! Lions sleep in trees, on rocks, or sometimes even on top of other lions.

It’s common for lions to sleep through the day, as the heat can become unbearable for many. To help beat the heat, lions often prefer to sleep under the shade of trees or bushes, or in the open when there’s a nice strong breeze to help keep them cool while they get their 16 to 20 hours. To learn more about Where Lions Sleep check out this article

Why Do Lions Sleep So Much?

There are a few reasons for a lion’s seemingly excessive sleep schedule. As you know, lions often sleep during the daylight hours to escape the brutal African sunlight and conserve their energy for hunting later on. 

Lions have no predators (aside from humans), so there’s no need for them to live in fear of being attacked when they’re most vulnerable. They also live with the protection of their pride, providing safety from a competing pride. Many animals sleep less, or lighter, due to fear of being attacked—lions simply don’t. 

Interestingly, lions have excellent night vision, making them some of the best night-hunters. Their night vision, however, makes it more difficult to see during the daylight hours, which also contributes to their lazy disposition while the sun is up. 


As you’ve learned in this article, lions don’t always live up to the courageous title humans have given them. It’s common for lions to sleep between 16 to 20 hours per day, and their sleep schedule is often determined by the opportunities they have to hunt. Some other factors influence their sleep schedule including the lack of predators they face, the heat from the sun, and even their vision.