How Long Do Tigers Sleep: Timing & Sleeping Habit

Tigers are one of the most majestic and mysterious creatures on Earth. Known for their distinctive orange and black stripes, these big cats express images of strength, agility, and raw predatory power. Aside from hunting and mating, tigers also spend a good amount of time sleeping every day.  

When it comes to their sleeping habits, tigers have some fascinating behaviors that may surprise you. These solitary hunters are quite lethargic in their day-to-day lives, spending an extraordinary amount of time asleep. Just how many hours do tigers spend sleeping in a day? Read on to learn more about the sleeping patterns and duration of tigers.

How Many Hours Do Tigers Sleep A Day

Overview of Tigers

Tigers (Panthera tigris) are one of the biggest cats in the world. Although often referred to as just big cats, they are scientifically classified in the genus Panthera along with other big cats such as lions, jaguars, and leopards. 

Physically, tigers are the largest of the big cat species with males reaching weights over 300 kilograms (660 pounds). Their distinctive striped coat and large size sets them apart from other big cats. Despite their intimidating size, tigers are powerful predators that hunt large prey like deer, wild pigs, and even buffalo. The tiger’s strength and predatory skills prove why they sit atop the big cat hierarchy.

While fierce when hunting, tigers are solitary and prefer to be alone when not seeking prey. Overall, the combination of immense size, strength, stealthy hunting abilities, and preference for solitary living provides scientific justification for categorizing tigers as one of the big cats.

Tigers are nocturnal; they are naturally most active at night, which is why they sleep so much during the day. As nocturnal hunters, tigers prefer to hunt and feed after dusk when their prey is also active. Their eyesight is adapted for night vision, and their striped coats provide camouflage in moonlit jungles and forests.

Tigers rely on their extraordinary sense of smell, hearing, and stealth to hunt successfully in darkness. Being active at night gives tigers the element of surprise and helps them avoid encountering humans during the daytime. For tigers, the cover of night allows for better hunting, feeding, mating, and raising cubs without interference. Their nocturnal nature is an evolutionary adaptation that enables their survival as ambush predators.

tiger sleeping

Tigers Sleeping Habit

Tigers do the majority of their hunting at night under the cover of darkness. This allows them to ambush prey more easily and rely on their keen senses rather than daytime visibility. After a long night of hunting and feeding, tigers are ready for a long nap.

Once the sun comes up in the morning, tigers will find a shaded spot in their territory to sleep. This is often a sheltered location like a dense thicket, cave, or underneath a fallen tree. The tiger will spend most of the daylight hours sleeping deeply in this spot until the sun starts to set.

Tigers will sleep alone. They do not share sleeping quarters or dens with other tigers. This allows them to remain hidden and avoid conflicts over territory or resources with other tigers. It also enables tigers to ambush prey more effectively, as a single tiger can stay well-camouflaged while sleeping.

The only exception is a mother tiger with her cubs. Tiger cubs will sleep next to their mother until they are old enough to hunt and survive on their own. During this time, the cubs are vulnerable to predators, so staying close to their mother allows for protection. Mother tigers are very defensive of their young and will fight fiercely to protect their cubs if threatened.

In addition, tigers change their sleeping spots. Tigers don’t have a single den or location that they return to sleep in every day. Instead, tigers change their sleeping spots regularly. This is a survival strategy that helps keep tigers safe from harm and undiscovered by other predators or prey. It allows them to rest securely and remain effective hunters.

Tigers are not on high alert during the day when they are sleeping. Their eyes will be closed and their breathing will be slow and steady while sleeping. However, they can still be easily awoken if a threat approaches or there is noise that alarms them. A dozing tiger will be ready to defend itself quickly if needed.

Tigers Sleep 16-20 Hours Per Day

Tigers are one of the longest-sleeping big cats, sleeping between 16-20 hours per day on average. Since tigers expend a lot more energy while awake hunting and defending their territory, tigers need considerable rest. They typically sleep during the day and are most active at night when it’s cooler and their prey is also active.  

Tigers tend to follow a polyphasic sleep pattern, meaning they have multiple sleep/wake cycles throughout the day and night. They usually take several long naps rather than one continuous sleep session. Tiger moms with young cubs may sleep even more than 20 hours to conserve energy while caring for demanding babies.

The long sleep requirements for tigers show the importance of rest, especially for large predators. Adequate sleep keeps tigers physically fit and mentally sharp so they can hunt effectively and avoid threats from rivals or humans. Tigers’ nocturnal nature and lengthy sleeping habits reflect evolutionary adaptations to their environment and lifestyle.

The Cubs Sleep Even More

Tiger cubs need even more sleep than adult tigers to support their rapid growth and development. Newborn cubs are blind and helpless at birth, weighing just 2-3 pounds. They spend nearly all of their time sleeping and nursing during the first few weeks. As they grow bigger and stronger, tiger cubs continue to sleep between 18-22 hours per day.

By sleeping over 20 hours a day, tiger cubs ensure they get the rest required to strengthen muscles, sharpen their senses, and learn skills like stalking prey. The abundant sleep in a cub’s early life establishes healthy habits that will continue into adulthood. The long sleeping habits of cubs demonstrate the tiger’s exceptional need for sleep to thrive.



Tigers spend a huge amount of time sleeping each day, getting 16-20 hours of sleep on average. As nocturnal animals, they are active at night and sleep mostly during daylight hours to keep their energy up. Tiger cubs sleep even more than adults, getting 18-22 hours of sleep daily as they grow.

Tigers will change their sleeping spot frequently and sleep alone rather than in groups. Their sleep patterns enable them to survive and thrive as powerful, solitary hunters. The many hours tigers spend sleeping each day allows them to conserve energy, hone their hunting skills, care for their young, and live successfully as big cats in the wild.

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