How Do Penguins Sleep? [Amazing Sleeping Habit]

Penguins sleep while either lying down or standing up on rocks nearby. These birds tuck their beaks under their wings while sleeping when they fall asleep standing up. They also lie on their bellies and fall asleep to stay warm. They sleep with one eye open most of the time.

Penguins are flightless birds that are only found in Antarctica. These birds have the most unique way of sleeping. These aquatic flightless birds are only found in the southern hemisphere, which means that they are different from other common animals. So, let’s learn more about these interesting yet adorable flightless birds.

About Penguins’ Sleep: Where Do Penguins Sleep?

Penguins are the kinds of animals that can almost fall asleep anywhere. But since they’re animals that like to spend most of their time in the ocean, they can sleep on both the land and the sea.

Moreover, they can fall asleep standing up, lying down near a rock, or even whilst floating on ocean waters. However, it has been observed that penguins are most commonly found sleeping on land.

Different kinds of penguins, such as emperor penguins or royal penguins, have different ways of doing certain things. Some penguins like sleeping near the coastline to take short naps, whereas some others even sleep inside the waters.

Do Penguins Sleep While Standing Up?

Yes, penguins can also sleep while standing up!

Just as we mentioned earlier, penguins have some very weird sleeping habits. These birds can sleep while lying down and even while standing up. Even though these flightless birds mostly enjoy staying near the ocean water, they can still sleep standing upright.

sleeping penguin while standing

Penguins can sleep standing up. While doing so, these flexible birds are mostly found standing up on rocks with their beaks tucked in their flippers, (another name for their wings) which makes them look like headless creatures! 

Do Penguins Sleep with One Eye Open?

If you think penguins standing up while sleeping is weird, wait till you find out another mind-boggling fact about these birds. Penguins are the kind of birds that sleep with one eye open! However, in case you’re wondering, these birds are not the only animals that sleep with their eyes open.

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Some other sea animals, such as the beluga whale, bottlenose dolphins, blackbirds, and even some ducks, sleep with one eye open. This behavior is called unihemispheric sleeping, which means that they can rest half of their mind at one time so they can keep an eye out for any potential predators or attacks. However, in some rare cases, this happens due to a lack of eyelids too.

How do Penguins Sleep in the Ocean?

Penguins are one of the most talented sleepers in the world. They can sleep while standing up and even sleep in the ocean. They can easily sleep while floating on water because their fat helps them stay afloat on the water. This is one of their favorite spots to sleep in because they like staying in the ocean most of the time.

sleeping penguin on rock

The best part is, while they’re sleeping, the color of their feathers helps keep them safe from any predators.

How Do Different Species of Penguins Sleep at Sea?

Penguins may have some weird ways of falling asleep, but is that the same for every penguin? Let’s find out whether some of the different penguin species have different ways of sleeping as well.

Royal Penguins

Just like ordinary penguins, royal penguins also sleep while lying down or standing up on rocks.

Little Penguins

Little penguins are also found sleeping while either standing up or lying down on the land.

Baby Penguins

Baby penguins, just like little penguins and royal penguins, also sleep in the same way.

How Long Do Penguins Sleep?

Penguins do not sleep for long, consecutive hours during the day. They take short naps throughout the day, which then adds up to a total of almost 10.7 hours a day. This means that they sleep for almost 20% of their lives and are considered the only animals who sleep a lot! But even while napping, they don’t fall into a deep sleep because they need to stay alert and protect themselves from potential dangers.

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What Time Do Penguins Go to Sleep (Do They Sleep During the Day)?

In addition to strange sleeping habits, penguins have strange and unusual sleeping patterns. Instead of sleeping like normal animals, these birds are somewhat nocturnal. They take short naps during the day and do not sleep during the night.

How Long Do Emperor Penguins Sleep?

Emperor penguins are one of the kinds of penguins that sleep a lot. It is mostly uncommon for a penguin to sleep a lot; however, emperor penguins are one of a kind.

sleeping penguin

These penguins use less energy when sleeping and do it for a very long time. They sleep for about 20 hours a day, which is not unusual for an emperor penguin. Sometimes they even sleep for a whole 24 hours! Emperor penguins do this to conserve their food supplies and even help increase the survival chance of their chicks.

How Long Do Jackass Penguins Sleep?

Jackass penguins, also known as African penguins, are a weird species of penguin. It is called the “jackass penguin” due to the donkey-like sound it makes. It is the only species of penguin to be found in Africa.

These birds, however, have the same sleeping patterns as normal penguins that live in the southern hemisphere, in Antarctica. They also take short naps during the day, standing or lying down on their bellies with one eye open.

How Long Do Little Penguins Sleep?

Another species of penguin that may differ from regular penguins with the same sleeping pattern is the little penguin. This penguin is usually in the water and is only on land for a short time.

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During this time, these penguins only sleep for about 4 minutes at a time.  They only sleep while lying down or standing up, depending on whether they are on land or in the water. If they are in the water, they will most probably sleep while floating on the sea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where do penguins sleep in Antarctica?

In Antarctica, which is the only place they are found, they sleep while standing up on rocks or lying down flat on their bellies to stay warm and comfortable.

How many years do penguins sleep?

Penguins sleep for almost half their lives; this means they spend 2 to 3 hours of their day sleeping and hence it shows that penguins sleep for 20% of their lives, which is the most an animal can sleep!

How many days do penguins sleep?

Penguins don’t sleep for a certain number of days, but they sleep for 10.7 hours during the day.

How much sleep do penguins need?

Penguins don’t need so much sleep; they only take short naps during the day that add up to 10 hours in a day.


Most penguins that are found in the southern hemisphere have the same sleeping routines and patterns. They mostly sleep while standing up; however, some penguins may even lie down on their bellies for comfort and warmth. These birds sleep with one eye open, so they can rest half of their minds and stay alert.

It’s quite unnatural to see animals with such weird habits, but it is just the beauty of nature that allows animals and even plants to have such rare and unique features and habits. Penguins are one of the perfect examples to prove this.

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