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Do Birds Sleep?


Question: Do Birds Sleep?
I recently adopted two pet Budgies -- a male and a female -- whom I absolutely adore. They are young birds, and very full of energy. In fact, it seems like they literally play all the time! When I go to bed at night, they are playing, and when I wake up in the mornings, they are still playing! I have had them for nearly three months now, and I have still never seen either one of them sleep. At this point, I'm beginning to wonder if birds sleep at all! They appear very healthy and their veterinarian has given them both thorough check ups, but I can't help but worry that lack of sleep could take a toll on them physically. Plus, they keep me up at night with the racket they make in their cage! Do I need to be doing something to make sure that they're getting enough sleep at night.
Answer: Congratulations on adopting your new birds. It certainly sounds like you've got a feisty little pair on your hands! To answer your question, yes, birds do sleep, and the sleep cycle does play a very important role in their health, as it does for human beings and other types of animals. If your avian vet has given your birds a clean bill of health, then odds are that they are just rowdy young birds who are enjoying their lives -- however, I can't blame you for being concerned. Let's take a look at the importance that sleep plays in our birds' lives.

Birds are fairly light sleepers by nature. In the wild, they must always be on the lookout for predators that might want to make them their next meal, so it pays for them to be as alert as possible and to awaken at the slightest noise or vibration. Because of this, birds actually require more sleep in terms of hours than many other types of animals. In fact, most bird experts will tell you that the majority of captive pet birds need an average of 12 hours of sleep each night in order to maintain optimum health. That's a lot more than "40 winks!"

Restful sleep ensures that your pet birds, who are extremely intelligent and mentally active, are getting a chance for their bodies' cells to regenerate, rebuild, and repair themselves. This includes everything from your bird's brain cells down to the cells that make up his or her bones and muscles. Failure to get adequate sleep can potentially lower your bird's immune system, lead to undue stress, and cause various behavior problems. That said, making sure that your pets are getting enough shut-eye can pay off in various respects.

If you are concerned that your birds aren't sleeping enough, in spite of your avian vet's diagnosis, then it may not hurt for you to get a second opinion from a different vet in your area. The foundation of a positive ownership experience is finding a good vet that you can trust, and it seems to me that your gut instincts might be telling you that this vet isn't the right one for you and your pets.

To help your bird get more sleep in the meantime, you might want to try covering the birdcage at night. This can help provide your birds with a sense of safety and security, quieten them as it provides darkness, and can help you establish a bedtime routine with your new feathered friends. It works well for most birds and their owners, and will likely give both you and your little pets a better night's sleep if you give it a try. Good luck!
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