How Do Chickens Sleep?

Are you taking care of one chicken or attending to a flock? Whatever the case, you’ve surely noticed these birds’ unique behaviors. Maybe it has crossed your mind, “how do chickens sleep”? Do they nap standing up or curled up in a ball? This article will satisfy your curiosity and provide tips on giving your pets the rest they deserve.

Sleeping on a Perch

This method is one of the most common sleeping habits that you’ll observe in your chickens. They spend a big chunk of their sleeping time on perches.

chicken Sleeping on a Perch

Why is sleeping on a perch essential?

These birds prefer perches more than any other sleeping method for the following reasons:

● To protect them from predators

Chickens are almost blind in the dark. They could not see anything clearly, including predators. If, for example, a possum or fox goes inside their coop, they would have difficulty defending themselves. Sleeping on a perch away from a wall keeps them safe. It gives your birds a sense of security and a good night’s sleep.

● To help them excrete waste properly.

Chickens love to eat and graze during the daytime. All this food will accumulate at the end of the day. When the night comes, they would need to eliminate waste. Sleeping above the ground makes excretion easy for them. Their poop will fall to the floor and won’t soil their feathers.

How to Prepare a Perch for Your Chickens

Providing your chicken roosting perches will allow them to sleep securely and comfortably inside the coop. The following guidelines can help create the best sleeping environment for your flock.

  1. Try to create a perch similar to a tree branch’s look and feel.
  2. The chicken will feel safer as the perch goes higher. The recommended height would be five feet off the ground.
  3. A regular perch is usually as high as a fence or a chair. The chickens can use this to observe their surroundings or take a quick nap. They can always go down quickly and go on with their usual routine. On the other hand, a roosting perch allows them to sleep longer without being bothered.
  4. It would be great to use an old ladder as a roosting perch. Place them inside the coop, away from the wall.
  5. You can also make a perch by creating a bar from wood planks. This set-up will allow several chickens to sleep together safely.
  6. Ensure that your perch or roosting bar can accommodate at least fifty pounds. It must support the weight of all the birds sleeping at night.

Check out this video to see how chickens sleep on a perch.

Sleeping In a Stretched Out Position

A stretched-out chicken that’s not moving might make you panic. Well, it’s understandable. This position makes it look like it’s passed out. Chickens sometimes sleep in this position with their legs extending away from their bodies. Some poultry owners are used to seeing their chickens sleep this way that they’ve referred to it as “death stretch.”

Some chickens do this when sunbathing, dust bathing, or napping. It’s a normal chicken behavior that usually causes newbie poultry raisers to worry. This sleeping position is okay if the chicken drinks and eats regularly. If you notice that they’re not their usual active selves or their movement seems off, bring them to the vet for a check-up.

Chicks are usually the ones who sleep in this position. Being active all day zaps their energy, so they’d plop down and rest.

Should I worry if my chicken stretches out when sleeping?

As mentioned earlier, healthy chickens resting in this position are no cause for alarm. However, if they experience the following, you must bring them to the veterinarian for proper health assessment.

● Illness

A sick chicken will not have the energy to perch or climb a roosting bar. They’d prefer to stretch out on the soil and try to heal themselves. It’s best to check their comb for any signs of diseases. A comb that has turned purple, blue, or black from bright red indicates they’re sick. You must also check for discharge from their nose and eyes. If they have a runny nose or inflamed eyes, seek professional help immediately.

● Injury

If another animal has mauled your chicken, it might have difficulty sleeping on its perch. It would instead stretch on its side to speed up healing. Even slight injuries from pecks or nibbles from their chicken family would cause them to rest on their side. Damaged nails, broken bones, open wounds, and sprained toes would force them to the stretched-out sleeping position. It’s best to check for injuries to ensure nothing is wrong with them.

Please watch this video to see how a stretched-out sleeping chicken looks.

Sleeping Curled Up in a Ball

An adorable way that chickens sleep is curled up in a ball. Usually, chicks are the ones who sleep in this position. They love to cuddle with their brothers and sisters. These babies don’t have fully developed feathers, so this sleeping method will keep them warm.

Is sleeping while curled up in a ball safe?

Perhaps curling up like a ball seems so comfortable for other animals like puppies and kittens. However, it is not recommended for chickens. As mentioned earlier, sleeping on the ground can harm their health and safety.

There are two instances, though, where sleeping in a curled-up position can benefit chickens.

● When you’re raising a meat bird.

Meat birds such as the Cornish Cross (Cornish X) tend to get big and heavy. It needs to sleep on the ground since its legs are prone to injury and disease. This breed can’t support its weight well, so climbing up a perch is not a good idea. However,  they might fall while struggling to balance themselves and break a leg.

● When you’re taking care of a nesting hen.

Mother chickens need to provide warmth and protection to their chicks. So, being curled up in a ball is the best position for r them. Staying on the ground allows them to nurture, protect, and teach their young.  

This video shows a mother hen sleeping with her chicks.

How to keep your chickens sleeping on the ground safely?

While it is not common for chickens to sleep on the ground, some still do. It’s best to provide them with a safe environment to get the rest they need to thrive.

The following are guidelines on how to keep your feathered balls sleeping safely.

  1. Ensure that their coop is adequately secured and protected from predators. Install fences that go deep into the soil so that foxes and possums cannot dig their way inside. Make sure to lock all doors before retiring for the night.
  2. Clean their nest or sleeping areas as often as possible. Since they’re not perched above the ground, they’d likely poop on their bed. Allowing their waste to accumulate can cause diseases.

Discovering a Chicken’s Sleeping Habits

Chicken Sleeping Habits

Now that you know how chickens sleep, it’s time to discover their quirky sleeping habits. It’s an exciting part of raising chicken. Knowing their sleeping habits can allow you to provide the best environment and care for your flock.

When does a chicken sleep?

A chicken is less active at night since it cannot see in the dark. They use this time to get much-needed rest. Given the natural sunrise and sunset routine, a chicken will easily sleep at night.

Chickens don’t mind if the nights are short. There are places where days are longer and nights are shorter. Some people would get affected by the lack of night sleep. This phenomenon does not bother the chickens, and they’d live normally.

Can chickens sleep through the night?

Sometimes, human mothers worry if their babies don’t sleep through the night. It is not a problem for chickens. Usually, they’d doze at dusk and awaken at dawn. No matter where they lived, they’d always stick to this routine.

If there are no distractions like loud noises or sudden movements, chickens can sleep through the night. However, it can also depend on your chicken’s temperament. Some would not mind a mild storm. On the other hand, some sensitive birds will get up at the slightest sound.

Do chickens sleep with both eyes closed?

Interestingly, chickens sleep with one eye closed. This behavior allows them to be alert and mindful of threats, even when sleeping. A chicken’s left eye connects to the brain’s right part. Meanwhile, its right eye is connected to the brain’s left part.

Do chickens sleep standing up?

Chickens don’t sleep standing up. They might rest but not sleep in this position. These birds, just like any creature, will find the best sleeping position that can allow them to rest. Standing up will tire their legs and won’t do them any good. If a chicken has insufficient space on the perch, it will find another place, even on the ground. It would rather risk sleeping on the floor instead of sleeping while standing up.


How do chickens sleep? There are three ways that a chicken dozes off. It does not matter what their positions are. What’s important is that they have a safe and comfortable place to rest and recharge. As long as they’re disease and injury-free, you don’t have to worry about the sleeping position they choose.

How Do Chickens Sleep

5/5 - (2 votes)

Leave a Comment