If you’re new to owning chickens or simply curious about them, you’ve probably wondered what their day-to-day schedule is like.
More specifically, what time do chickens go to bed?
How much do they sleep?
Finally, is there anything you need to do to ensure your flock is always comfortable and safe when they go to bed?
Chickens are diurnal, meaning they’re awake and active during the day and sleep at night. They generally roost and go to sleep soon after the sun sets and wake back up when the sun begins to rise. They typically sleep for around 7 to 9 hours per night.
Let’s take an in-depth look at your chickens’ sleep schedule below!
We’ll go over what time chickens go to bed, how many hours to expect them to sleep per night, and what their sleeping conditions should look like to keep the whole flock happy and healthy.
When Do Chickens Go to Sleep?
Like us humans, chickens are diurnal animals.
This simply means you and your chickens generally are active during the day and resting at night.
However, unlike humans, chickens don’t understand time as a construct in the more complex way we do or have a specific time of day they prefer to head to bed.
Instead of following an alarm clock or waiting for Siri to tell us when bedtime rolls around, chickens just look to the sun to understand when to seek shelter and rest.
The sun indicates to chickens, no matter where they are, roughly what time of day it is and how much time they have left before they should make their way to a sheltered roost to sleep.
It’s safer for them to be more active during the day, after all, and at night, it makes sense for them to look for a secure, preferably hidden place away from their many potential predators to get some sleep.
Chickens have surprisingly sharp eyesight but cannot see in the dark.
This makes them highly vulnerable at night, especially if they encounter dangerous predators with night vision.
Because their sleep schedule follows the natural rising and setting of the sun so closely, chickens are quite the early risers!
Expect your flock to be awake and active just before the sun fully rises and heading back to the coop at dusk just before the sun fully sets.
How Many Hours Do Chickens Sleep Per Night?
Most chickens sleep for around 7 to 9 hours per night.
They are very light sleepers, though, and they are especially prone to waking when startled by sounds from outside the coop or the movement and noise of the other birds inside the coop.
Additionally, how many hours of sleep a chicken gets per night depends on a few different factors, namely the chicken’s age, health, and the time of year.
A chicken’s age significantly affects how long they sleep per night.
Very young chickens, for example, will sleep much longer on average than adult chickens, or for around 12 hours a day in total.
This usually consists of many 30-to-90-minute naps broken up by brief bursts of energy and sudden activity.
It is normal for older chickens to sleep for longer than their much younger companions.
Various health issues also will cause a chicken to become lethargic and begin sleeping more than usual.
Respiratory infections, parasite infestations, and avian flu are common health problems in chickens that cause lethargic behavior.
Finally, the current season greatly impacts your flock’s sleep schedule.
When the days are shorter in the winter, your chickens will sleep a bit more than usual.
By comparison, the longer days and shorter nights of summer encourage chickens to go to bed later and wake up earlier.
Do Chickens Need a Coop to Sleep in?
Chickens naturally seek shelter when the sun goes down, so it’s highly recommended you have a secure, designated coop for them to sleep in every night.
Additionally, chickens instinctively roost when they get ready to sleep, meaning they need an elevated perch to feel comfortable.
Without a chicken coop, your flock would likely just sleep in the closest trees they can find, as the leaves likely provide at least a small amount of coverage, and the tree branches provide them with roosts.
So far, this doesn’t sound like much of an issue for your birds.
To be fair, chickens aren’t the type of pets to unexpectedly run away, and they tend to stay very close to where they know their food is.
However, not having a coop for your chickens to seek shelter and sleep in leaves them exposed to two potentially lethal dangers: predators and the elements.
Many animals commonly prey on chickens, have night vision, and are surprisingly speedy when hunting for food.
What’s more, if it’s raining, snowing, hailing, or some kind of bad weather otherwise necessitates seeking shelter, your birds will be exposed, afraid, and potentially in danger.
As a responsible chicken owner, you need a secure coop with a few roosts installed to keep your chickens safe and dry every night.
Nesting boxes should also be available for your hens to lay their eggs.
Further Reading: How many nesting boxes do chickens need?
The coop should ideally be spacious enough to comfortably house your entire flock, so the birds aren’t constantly stepping on or bumping into their flock mates but also compact and cozy enough to prevent heat from escaping too quickly during the winter.
Should Chickens Be Locked in the Coop at Night?
Although it seems a bit extreme to some, securing your chickens inside their coop at night is essential to keep them as safe as possible from the many predators looking to make a meal out of them (and possibly their eggs, too).
Be sure to close off any potential openings a snake, fox, mink, or any other pesky predators in your area would be able to breach and access your chickens.
Nothing gets in, and nothing gets out unless you open the coop door.
And not to worry–your chickens won’t mind being locked in the coop for 7 to 10 hours a night.
In fact, they’ll likely make themselves right at home.
Just make sure the coop meets the following requirements first:
- The enclosure is safe and secure from predators
- The coop has adequate ventilation
- A clean, fresh water source is available with enough water to last the entire night
- There are enough roosts for the whole flock to feel comfortable
- The bedding in the coop is clean and dry (but not dusty)
- The temperature in the coop is not too hot or too cold (around 60F to 75F is best)
Whenever possible, stick to your birds’ daily schedule as closely as possible.
Let them out at around the same time every morning, and lock them back in the coop at around the same time each night.
It’s also a good idea to have an actual, physical lock on the coop door to make it even more secure.
Some animals like foxes are surprisingly skilled at opening doors, windows, and latches all by themselves!