How long do lions sleep?

Question: How long do Lions sleep? 

Lions spend approximately 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping, making them the laziest of the big cat species. 

And after a big meal? You can expect a lion to sleep up to 24 hours on a full stomach. 

Let’s learn about Lions and their sleeping habits 

The Lion (Panthera leo) is a species in the family Felidae and is the largest wild cat in Africa. Unfortunately, lions are currently listed as a “vulnerable” species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, with the population trend decreasing. In Africa, there are approximately 23 000 to 39 000 mature adult lions. 

How much do lions sleep? 

Did you know male lions sleep up to 20 hours or more a day, while female lionesses only get 15 to 18 hours of shuteye? That’s because females do most of the hunting and taking care of their offspring while the males stay behind to protect their pride. In other words, males sleep while females work. Sound familiar? 

However, in captivity, a lion tends to sleep significantly more due to not having to hunt for prey. 

Lions have a notorious reputation for being chronic nappers and on the surface, this may seem true, however, they are in fact preserving energy. In the wild, lions require extreme bouts of energy in order to survive, hunt for prey and protect their territories. 

Did you know a lion can run as fast a 50 mph and leap as high as 36 feet in the air? 

That’s why it is vital that the lion rests to re-calibrate their body ready for the next fight for survival. 

Where do Lions sleep? 

In the wild, lions will seek specific kinds of shelter for specific purposes, whether it’s to give birth, escape the heat, and conserve energy or take refuge from predators. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into the lion’s decision-making process: 

Shelter for cubs 

When it’s time to give birth, the lioness will leave her pride and seek a private den preferably in dense grass, marshland or better yet, a cave. Why? Survival. That’s right. The lioness will seek isolated shelter not only to rest but to protect her young from male lions. Yes, you heard that right. If there is more than one male lion in the pride, chances are they are likely to kill a newborn cub (this doesn’t sound like The Lion King to me). 

Conserve energy 

To conserve energy and to stave off the blistering African heat, lions usually spend a large portion of their day resting. They prefer to nap under large trees, or cool canopies, basically anywhere that is cool enough to escape the heat. Another factor is proximity to a watering hole and hunting areas. It’s all about Location. Location. Location. In most cases, when not avoiding the intense African heat, Lions will often laze about on the open plains. 

Take refuge 

While the lion has very few natural predators, a shelter may provide relief from larger animals, such as elephants, buffalo and hyena. And of course, relief from those pesky biting insects, including tsetse flies. Of course, the human is a lion’s most feared predator and shelter may provide camouflage and protection. 

Are Lions nocturnal? 

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight… turns out the song we’ve been singing since forever isn’t entirely accurate. See, lions are, in fact, primarily a nocturnal animal whereby they are more active during the night, after dusk when it’s significantly cooler. 

During the day, however, lions spend much of their time catching some zzz’s. Why? Well, lions sleep for a variety of different reasons, including energy preservation, boredom, a lack of prey, and avoiding the heat. 

Lion sleep behavior 

Sleeping actually provides plenty of socialisation between lions. Sleeping in groups, lions love to rub their heads and paws together, lick one another’s faces, groom each other and purr much like a couple of domestic cats would. 

Sleeping normally takes place from morning to late afternoon just as the African sun has reached its highest intensity. However, if the pride is situated in close proximity to a large water source, you can expect lions to be significantly more active during the day to hunt and defend.

Of course, this isn’t ideal as hunting at night allows for increased invisibility (stealth mode) but it goes to show that lions are always ready to attack prey and protect their pride. 

Frequently Asked Questions

People who ask ‘How long do lions sleep?‘ also ask;

How long do lions sleep for?

Male lions sleep up to 20 hours or more a day, while female lionesses get about 15 to 18 hours of rest. In captivity, a lion tends to sleep significantly more. 

Why do lions sleep so much?

Hunting prey takes a considerable amount of effort so sleep is vital in ensuring they have enough energy to stalk, pounce, and fight.

Why are lions so lazy?

Believing lions are lazy is a common misconception. In fact, lions are constantly awaiting potential opportunities to attack predators that may come their way.

How long does a lion normally sleep during a day?

Lions spend approximately 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping, making them the laziest of the big cat species. Lions may sleep far longer, up to 24 hours, after consuming a large meal. 

Why do lions sleep all day?

Lions sleep all day to conserve energy and ready themselves for a possible attack. Males sleep far longer, however, they are actually awaiting predator’s who may pose a threat to their pride. 

Do Lions sleep in Trees?

Yes, sometimes. To avoid pesky biting bugs while they sleep, a lion will sometimes climb up a tree to catch a few z’s whilst also watching for potential predator’s from above. Talk about multi-tasking!

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