How Do Deer Sleep and How Long? The Full Picture

How Do Deer Sleep?

If you are planning to go on a hunt anytime soon, you might want to find out how do deer sleep and learn more about their sleeping habits. They are known to be nocturnal beings who are pretty active after dusk and usually do not sleep at night. Evolution over the years has trained deer to protect themselves from predators by always being alert, even when sleeping.

If you want to discover some deer bedding areas on your next hunting trip, this guide on when and how long do deer sleep can help you understand their sleeping habits and the factors affecting them.

How Long Do Deer Sleep In a Day?

Contrary to popular opinions, studies have found that deer sleep about 4 to 5 hours a day on average, out of which only 30 minutes constitute a deep sleep state.

One of the most astonishing deer sleeping habits is that they can sleep with their eyes open, though that’s not true for every deer out there.

Since they only sleep during the daylight hours when the forest is thriving with both animal and human predators, keeping their eyes open is an important precaution to amp up their safety.

Where and How Do Deer Sleep?

Being cautious animals, a herd of deer will only sleep in a place they find safety from predators, usually near water and food sources or well-hidden areas in the heart of the forest.

Sleeping Positions

The exact sleeping positions and locations will depend on the concentration of predators in the forest, season, birth stage, feeding times, wind direction, etc.

Factors Affecting Deer Sleeping Locations

Deer keep changing their bedding areas based on several factors. Here, we will discuss some of the factors that influence the sleeping location and habits of a herd of deer.

Easy Entrance & Exits

Being herbivorous, deer are always far down in the food chain, with many more predators waiting to hunt them. Since they have to be extra cautious, even when they are sleeping, deer prefer bedding areas that have an easy entrance so they can easily escape if something goes wrong.

For the same reasons, they also look for bedding areas that offer long-range visibility of the forest tracks. This allows them to watch out for approaching predators from a distance and run away on time.

Hunting Pressure

Years of evolution have taught deer to live with the hunting practices of animals above them in the food chain.

They are well versed with the hunting practices and timings of all the predators and choose their bedding areas accordingly.

For example, during the legal hunting hours of the night, deer might take refuge in the deeper parts of the forest camouflaged with tall trees and tall grasses. Usually, they don’t sleep at these hours, but even if they have to rest for a while, they will run into areas inaccessible to humans.

Similarly, having stayed with all the other animals in the forest for many years, they know exactly where each species likes to reside. That’s why they prefer to stay away from common predator areas and take refuge in thick bushy areas with at least 10 to 20 feet of foliage that keeps them hidden from everyone in the forest.

Birth Stage

Newborn deer are always kept close to their mothers or mature bucks in the bedding areas. For additional security, they might also move to camouflaged areas or edges which keep them hidden yet offer a clear view of the rest of the forest.

One of the deer’s most clever sleeping strategies is to surround themselves with leaf litter. The sound of the crunching leaves immediately alerts them of an approaching predator who might have entered their territory during their resting hours.


Another important factor that influences the bedding areas of deer in the season. During summers and spring, when the temperature rises, deer travel paths for a fresh and airy place close to a water source.

As winter approaches, they move deeper into the forest with thick trees and bushes that give them adequate sunlight and protect them from the harsh cold weather and winds.

How Do Deer Sleep: Sleeping Position of Deer

The sleeping position of deer resembles that of cats. They can either sleep with their limbs tucked under them or lean on their sides, curling up their limbs close to their chest.

How Do Deer Sleep?

What makes their sleeping position slightly different from cats is the frequent change in their head position, which is free to swing in either direction to keep an eye on approaching predators.

As mentioned before, they can also choose to keep their eyes open while sleeping. This helps them stay alert and watch out for potential dangers without compromising their sleep.

Sleeping Cycle of Deer

Deer have a rather interesting sleeping cycle. They first doze off for 30 seconds to 1 minute, followed by a small period of alertness before going back to sleep for another minute.

The cycle might continue for 35 to 40 minutes, after which the deer might get up to urinate, defecate, stretch, eat and drink water before going back to sleep for another cycle.

Deer hardly ever fall into a deep sleep. The maximum deep sleep they can get in a day is close to 30 minutes, largely depending on the deer species, hunting pressure, and the bedding area.

Conclusion on Deer Sleep

We hope you now have the answer to how do deer sleep. Deer are considered to be one of the weakest and defenseless animals in the forest hierarchy. Naturally, they cannot afford to get as much rest as some of the other animals higher up in the food chain.

They have developed unique sleeping patterns and strategies that keep them safe from wild animals but allow them enough time to rest. If you intend on paying a little visit to them, you will need to consider all the factors mentioned above to attract deer or discover deer beds.


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