Sloth Sleeping Habits – How Much Is Enough For Them?

As humans, we all need to perform certain activities in order to survive. One of those activities is sleeping (I know I love my sleep!). But what about sloths? Do sloths need sleep like humans do? What are sloth sleeping habits? There is sometimes an assumption that sloths lie around and sleep most of their days away, but is this actually true?

In this article, I will answer these questions for you by discussing sleep that humans require in order to survive, comparing that to how much sleep sloths get, and then making sleep comparisons with other animals. At the end of it all, I hope to have provided you with some interesting information that we can all learn something from.


How Much Zzzzs Do We Need?

I don’t know about you, but I feel energized, well-rested, and relatively alert if I am able to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. I also love naps – unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity to take many of those. What do the experts have to say about sleep requirements for humans? Let’s take a look at some information that I found:

  • According to National Sleep Foundation, “…healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.”
  • According to HelpGuide, “Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to function well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.”

It doesn’t take much to encourage me to get more sleep! On a more serious note, though, so many people do not get enough sleep, which can cause a number of health issues as a result. Let’s now take a look at how much sleep sloths get.


How Much Time Do Sloths Spend Sleeping?

A number of people assume that sloths are lazy and spend most of their time sleeping. First of all, sloths are most definitely not lazy. Instead, they have evolved and choose to move slowly, with purpose, for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons include low caloric intake and slow metabolism, habitat, evolution, and survival. For more information about this, check out my article titled, “Why Do Sloths Move Slowly? It’s About Survival“.

Next, let’s take a look at how much sleep sloths actually do get. According to World Animal Protection, “The sleeping pattern of a modern day sloth is dependent on its habitat, with sloths in captivity sleeping up to 15-20 hours a day whilst sloths in the wild sleep as much as humans, at around 8-9 hours a day.”

The Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, which is in Germany, did a study that monitored the sleep of sloths. Regarding this study, lead researcher Niels Rattenborg told BBC News that, “The real exciting finding was that they only slept 9.6 hours a day, which is much less than what people popularly believed and less than had been observed in a previous study of sloths in captivity”. More information about this study can be found at

LiveScience states that, “Sloths prefer sleeping while curled into a ball in the fork of a tropical tree. They also like to sleep hanging by their claws from tree branches.” Sloths have a biological makeup that enables them to spend most of their lives hanging upside down, which they do. And they do more than just sleep upside down – they eat upside down, they mate upside down, and they will give birth upside down, too!

Check out this video of a sleeping sloth (how cute is this!). It was posted on April 3, 2020 by Fresh Notes. Enjoy!


How Much Sleep Do Some Other Animals Get?

For comparison purposes, let’s take a look at how much sleep some other animals get (I would do quite well in this category!).

  1. Brown Bat: this particular animal can sleep over 19 hours per day.
  2. Giant Armadillo: 18 hours of sleep per day can be accomplished by this animal.
  3. North American Opossum: 18 hours of sleep per day can be done by this particular animal.
  4. Python: 18 hours per day sleeping leaves a few hours of slithering time for this snake.
  5. Owl Monkey: 17 hours of sleep per day is possible for this animal.

According to World Wildlife Fund, “Koalas can sleep up to 18 hours a day”.


Which Animals Get Very Little Sleep?

For some more comparisons, let’s present a list of animals at the other end of the sleep spectrum – the spectrum where very little sleep happens for them. This list presents some of the animals that get the least amount of sleep in the animal kingdom (this is not a category that I would do well in!).

  • Alpine swifts
  • Bullfrogs
  • Deer
  • Dolphins
  • Elephants
  • Giraffes
  • Horses
  • Orca calves
  • Sharks
  • Sheep
  • Walruses

While not always the case, there are a number of these animals that get very little sleep as a result of being “on guard”, as their predators would be able to attack them more easily while they are asleep.


To Sleep Or Not To Sleep

In this article, I discussed one of my favorite activities…..sleeping! I discussed a bit about how much sleep humans need, I compared that to sloth sleeping habits, and I made some sleep comparisons with other animals. While sleep is so vitally important for humans, I was quite surprised to learn that some animals get very little sleep (I was also surprised that some animals get so much sleep…..over 19 hours per day?) Wow! What may surprise some people, though, is the fact that sloths are not lazy and do not get nearly as much sleep as a number of people assumed (at least not in the wild).

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have any comments or questions that you would like to share, please feel free to do so below and I will be sure to reply.

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  • I had never had to go online to read about sloths until now. I think they are really cute because my sister’s best friend owns one and I just adore them. I don’t think they can ever sleep as compared to the koala but all the same this is something good to learn and I should share this with the sloth owner.

    • Michael Christmann says:

      I think sloths are really cute, too.

      And koalas sure like to sleep, too, don’t they!

      Thank you for reading my article and for commenting on it.

  • Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this beautiful piece of information here with us. I must say i really did enjoy going through your article – it contains valuable information one needs to be aware of. I’m as amazed as you are to see that some animals sleep as much as 19 hours a day. Sloths are slow and cute so they deserve all the amount of sleep they can get.

    • Michael Christmann says:

      I am so happy to see that you enjoyed going through my article.

      Sloths are indeed slow and cute and deserve all the amount of sleep (and all good things) that they can get.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • No doubt sleeping is good for all animals as it helps to keep your brain afresh. Sloths are one of nature’s creatures that spend time sleeping and they can do that for several hours. But then again that doesn’t mean they are actually lazy animals though. They are very smart which is one attribute they have. Thanks for sharing this interesting review.

    • Michael Christmann says:

      You are correct when you say that sloths are not lazy.  You are also correct when you say that sloths are very smart.  I have discussed these two points in a bit more detail in an article titled, “Why Do Sloths Move Slowly? It’s About Survival“.

      Thank you for your comments.

  • That’s a lot of sleeping time for sloths in captivity. I guess the sloths in captivity sleep that much because they have nothing to do. This in a sense proves further that sloths are not actually lazy. And I always saw them to be very lazy animals. Well with this, I now have a change of mindset and stand corrected. Thanks for this article on sloths’ sleeping habits.

    • Michael Christmann says:

      Sloths in captivity sleep more than sloths in the wild for a number of possible reasons, including boredom.  Depression may also be a reason since sloths are happier in their natural habitats (in the wild) than they are in captivity.

      Two more reasons why sloths in captivity may sleep longer than sloths in the wild are related to food and to predators.  Since sloths in captivity have food delivered (and fed) to them, I would think that would free up more time for them to sleep.  Also, if there is no fear of being attacked by predators while in captivity, that may make sleeping easier for sloths to do.

      I am glad that you learned something from my article and I would like to thank you for your comments.

  • Interesting article on how much humans and animals need sleep. I heard the adults over the age of 65 only need 6-7 hours of sleep. So it’s interesting to know that they need 7-8 hours!
    You have covered other animals and how much sleep they need. It’s surprising to read sloths only sleep for over 9 hours! I was thinking they would sleep the most!
    Thank you for this highly interesting article.

    • I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that sloths in the wild average less than 10 hours of sleep per day.

      I’m glad that you found this article interesting and I thank you for commenting on it.

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