I’m sure you are all too familiar with the photos of lions snoozing in the sun or draped in trees like oversized house cats. For ferocious hunters, they do seem to spend a lot of time sleeping, but how many hours a day do lions actually sleep?

Lions sleep for between 13 and 20 hours per day! The males sleep for 4 to 6 hours longer than the females.

Just like your cat at home, lions need to sleep for large portions of the day, but this is not just them being lazy. There are some important reasons that these cats prioritize their shut-eye so much.

In this article, we are going to learn about this big cat’s sleeping habits and figure out how long they sleep for and why.

How Many Hours a Day Does a Lion Sleep?

Lions will sleep for between 14 and 20 hours per day.

Of the two, the males are the laziest of the sexes, sleeping 18-20 hours a day while the females sleep for an average of 14 hours.

Male lions have far fewer responsibilities in the pride, which allows them to get in a few more hours compared to their hard-working female counterparts who need to care for the cubs and hunt.

Generally, lions will sleep during the hottest periods of the day and become more active around dusk when the weather has cooled down. They can do this with relative safety, as there are not many occasions that another predator will attack a pride of lions.

In comparison, their smaller predatory counterparts, like the cheetah, sleep for 12 hours a day, which is still considerable. This certainly shows that no matter the size of the cat, they love and need a good long sleep to function at their best.

Why Do Lions Need To Sleep For So Long?

Sixteen to twenty hours of sleep may seem like a very long time, but it’s not just an extended cat nap. Lions have a very good reason for getting this much rest.

The first reason is thermoregulation. Lions generally live in the grasslands and savannas across Africa, where it is very hot. Combine this with the sheer size of a lion, and you have one hot kitty!

Lions are known for their fast acceleration and intense strength used to take down their prey. Since they have a larger build than many other predators, it takes far more energy to move their large bodies at this speed. Even walking across a hot savanna can lead a lion to pant, so they need all the energy they can muster up just to move around. In technical terms, they generate a lot of metabolic heat, and it is essential that they cool themselves down in order to have energy.

Lions will find a spot in the shade and sleep across the hottest part of the day to keep cool and preserve their energy. They may even find a tree to sleep in to take advantage of a cool breeze and get away from pesky flies. As the sun moves, they will rouse themselves enough to move to a new patch of shade before falling back to sleep.

Apart from thermoregulation, the lions’ ability to sleep for extended periods comes down to how they hunt. Some predators like wild dogs are cursorial predators, meaning they track their prey and move along with the herd, which doesn’t leave as much time to sleep. However, lions have different tactics.

 Lions are known as ambush predators because they wait for their prey to move into their area before stalking and ambushing them. The pride will position itself in a place where its prey is likely to roam and simply sit and wait. While they wait, there is not much else to do but care for the cubs and have a snooze.

This leaves them plenty of time to find a spot of shade and sleep for hours on end, so they have the energy to hunt when the opportunity arises. The females will expend their built-up energy on taking down a buck while the males get in a little more shut0eye before dinner.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do house cats sleep?

So we know that big cats sleep for a really long time, but what about your furry friend at home?

House cats will sleep for twelve to sixteen hours a day! Cat naps really are a natural phenomenon. Although, as we discovered, lions so long to preserve their strength for hunting, we don’t know what our cat’s excuses are!

Which animals sleep the longest?

If you think that up to twenty hours is a long sleep schedule, you haven’t seen anything yet!

The animal that sleeps the longest is the koala. These fuzzy little bears sleep for 20 to 22 hours per day, and the rest of their time is spent eating. The reason they sleep so much is that they require an immense amount of energy to digest their low-energy diet of toxic eucalyptus leaves.


We don’t know about you, but we envy lions getting to sleep so much in a day!

These big cats sleep for 14 to 20 hours a day to preserve their energy and save their strength for hunting. In the heat of the day, you will find them lounging in the shade of s tree, waiting for their prey that unknowingly wanders by.

So the next time you see a lion looking lazy, know that they are that way for a very good reason.

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