How Do Ducks Sleep? They’re Surprisingly Complex!

Ducks are some of my favorite animals which explains why I write about ducks extensively. Although they’re not considered to be the sharpest pencils in the pencil case, they have a few tricks up their sleeves.

I see that a lot of people are trying to understand more about how ducks are sleeping and about their sleeping habits. So, if you’re interested in this interesting topic, read on…

How do ducks sleep? Ducks are more active than chickens at night so they don’t sleep in one go like chickens do, but instead take a nap every couple of hours throughout the day and night when they get the chance.

They are also known to sleep with one eye open when they’re on the outside perimeter of the group, while the ducks on the inside sleep with both eyes closed. The ducks that sleep with one eye open are using only half of the brain to keep an eye on predators while the other half of the brain is resting.

As ducks get older, they are spending more and more time grooming and sleeping and taking their time.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into their sleeping habits and uncover some of the myths.

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Where Do Ducks Sleep?

Ducks aren’t actually that picky about their sleeping space. In the wild, ducks can sleep on the water or on the water bank. Sleeping is often the last part of the grooming process that starts with foraging, continues with bathing and preening their feathers and lastly sleeping.

Wild ducks and pet or domesticated ducks are very similar in that regard. While domestic ducks will enjoy a pond in your backyard, it is not necessary and an access to a small shower will be enough. Likewise, they won’t need a body of water to sleep in as they’re content with whatever sleeping arrangements you make them.

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When Do Ducks Sleep?

As I’ve already mentioned, ducks do not strictly sleep during the night. They choose a more flexible sleeping schedule allowing them to sleep multiple times during the 24 hours. They’ll enjoy a nice nap in the sun and may even forage at night. They’re just like your old college buddy – opening the fridge at three o’clock in the morning and using the damn microwave.

Do Ducks Fly At Night?

We all now that ducks are avid flyers and some species, like the mallard ducks, can even go as high as 21,ooo feet. So, we already know that ducks do not sleep throughout the night, which gives them more time for flying when migrating.

Mallard ducks can cover as much as 800 miles in a single day when migrating and a part of that is done through the night as well. They often stop to rest or sleep in locations they’ve used previously which is pretty amazing.

Do Ducks Sleep Standing Up?

Ducks mostly sleep floating on water or lying down on land with their heads resting on their back. It’s not known for sure why they put their head in that position, but the most often conclusion is that it conserves body heat.

There’s one other sleeping position that serves the same purpose and that’s sleeping on one leg. This way, ducks reduce the amount of heat by half that is lost through their unfeathered limbs.

Next time when you’re tossing and turning in your bed, try sleeping on one leg, it might help 😉

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Do Ducks Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Ducks don’t sleep with both eyes open but they sure can sleep with one eye open. If a group of ducks are sleeping together, the ducks on the outside, or the perimeter will keep an eye open while the ducks in center will sleep with both eyes closed and enjoy a full sleep.

It’s no coincidence as the scientists have proved that the ducks will even change guard duty. But even with one eye open, half of their brain will be 100% asleep.

It’s called unihemispheric sleeping – one half of the brain rests while the other half remains alert for predators (or people throwing bread). It’s speculated that they might even sleep during their long migratory flights using this method!

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To conclude, ducks sleep on water or on shore where they may sleep standing on one leg to regulate their body temperature or resting their heads backwards on their body. If they’re feeling vulnerable, they’ll sleep with one eye open and half their brain asleep. Scientists even think that they may be using this technique while flying!