It is clear that sleep plays an important role in the health and well-being of humans. It appears to be important in the rest of the animal kingdom as well. While there are animals that need only very little sleep, there is no clear evidence of a species that does not sleep (1) at all. Migrating frigatebirds (2) sleep for less than an hour per day while gliding or soaring on long flights of up to 10 days. Jellyfish (3) do not have brains but show evidence of a sleep-like state during the nighttime hours by turning upside down and pulsing.

Lions are lethargic for the majority of their lives and spend about 20 hours of the day resting. This may seem like sheer laziness but in terms of survival, it makes complete sense. In order to survive, lions have to hunt and eat meat as well as protect territories. These intense periods of activity require a lot of energy and it is not unusual for a male lion to cover as much as 20km in a night if need be. Should they move about during the heat of the day, when they really don’t need to, they would essentially be wasting this precious energy and in fact be creating a situation where they would need to hunt more regularly.

Lions are one of the most active animals in the wild, and it’s evident with their large hunts and endless chasing of prey. For this reason, they require loads of food and rest. Thus, while they can be one of the most active animals, they can also be the laziest around.

How Much Do Lions Sleep?

Lions commonly sleep anywhere from fifteen to twenty hours each day.  Female lions sleep 15-19 hours per day which less than male lions as they watch over their cubs and do all of the hunting for their prides.  Male lions are much lazier and sleep longer than their female pride members at closer to twenty hours on any given day. 

Much of this sleep is broken up by shorter “cat-naps” so to speak, with longer stretched of sleep after a meal.  In fact, a lion can sleep for an entire twenty-four-hour period after it has had a hardy meal.

Do Lions Sleep At Night?

Lions do sleep at night some, but they do most of their hunting at night as well.  The cooler temperatures make the physical strain of hunting more effective.  Hunting in the heat burns more energy and can dehydrate lions more than that of a night hunt.

Lionesses are awake and active for about seven to twelve hours a day.  When the pride has cubs, especially young cubs, lions sleep less and are more vigilant. When cubs are first born, lionesses choose a safe space away from the rest of the pride to give birth and recover.  This is because the female lion is very vulnerable during this time.

How Often Do Lions Sleep

Lions are often away early in the morning.  The sleep or nap on and off from late morning to late evening.  This is because they generally sleep through the hottest part of the day to preserve their energy and conserve their resources.

They are awake and active again late in the evening and most of the night.  Their activities begin when the temperatures begin to drop, and things cool off.  The coolest parts of the night are when lions sleep the least and take on the most activity.  Hunting is most prevalent at this time.

Are Lions Nocturnal?

Lions do seem to do most, but not all, of their hunting at night. They are generally considered nocturnal and it has been reported that lions have a higher success rate when hunting on moonless nights (12). Lions have excellent night vision, and they are nearly 6 times more sensitive to light than humans.

Most of what we know about lion sleeping patterns and behaviors today is based on observation. It is easier to track and observe the lives of lions in captivity, such as a zoo or rehabilitation center, but tracking the daily activity of a lion in the wild is a challenge and can be dangerous. There is still much to learn about the daily activities of lions and their lengthy cat naps.

Where Do Lions Sleep?

Lions can truly sleep almost anywhere.  They can be found in the tall grass, under dense brush or bushes, beneath trees or fallen logs, in the shade of rock formations, cave openings, in trees, or in the rocky coverings near waterfalls, rivers, and other water sources. Most often lions will seek out the slightly cooler temperature that can be found in these shaded places.  This is especially common during the hottest parts of the day.

Lions are native to Africa, the middle east, and India.  These places, globally, are extremely hot.  In addition to the heat, many of the places that lions call home are also very dry climates. This combination means that lions need a good deal of energy in order to seek out water,  defend their territory and one another, and most importantly to hunt food so that their pride can survive.  A lion’s sleep is key in its quest for survival.

Do Lions Sleep Together?

Lion prides may sleep in close proximity, but they also tend to spread out a bit.  Male lions will watch over the rest of the pride as a guard.  Prides with multiple male lions most often do better at protecting because of multiple sets of eyes and ears keeping a look out.

This extends the life and health of the entire pride as well. Female lions rest, while also keeping an eye on their young.  When the female lion goes out for a hunt, male lions pick up the job of watching over the cubs that are too young to go hunting yet.

How Many Hours Do Most Lions Spend Sleeping?

Male lions spend 18 to 20 hours a day snoozing, while females get 15 to 18 hours of shuteye. The lionesses spend more time hunting and taking care of cubs, which is why they get slightly less sleep. And following a large meal, lions may even sleep up to 24 hours—talk about a catnap!

What Is A Lion’s Home?

Lions live in groups called pride. 10 to 50 lions can live in pride. Every pride has a home area called its territory. Lions do not allow other carnivores or other carnivorous animals to hunt in their territory. The area can be up to 260 to 280 square kilometers and 100 square miles.

Do Lions Sleep In Cave?

Lions usually do not sleep in caves. The caves, along with dense bushes and protected areas by the water, are among the places that the left decides to look for when they are about to give birth to their young. During the birth and during the first few months of life of lion cubs, both the left and the cubs are most vulnerable. 

Caves and other sheltered or protected places provide the female lion with the security and protection needed during childbirth. Then they stay there with the cubs to protect themselves until they rise to give them the best refuge when they lack the usual protection that the lions give them in pride.

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