Can Bearded Dragons Sleep With The Light On?

beardie in a tank with bright lights as owner asks Can Bearded Dragons Sleep With The Light On?

Lighting is an essential part of the bearded dragon’s enclosure because not only does it regulate day and night but it also serves as a source of heat. However, since beardies require darkness to enjoy restful sleep, new owners face the dilemma of whether to keep the lights on or off at night.

This article answers the question “Can Bearded Dragons Sleep With The Light On?” by discussing the consequences of leaving the light on overnight in the beardie’s tank. We also look into the specific lighting and temperature needs for bearded dragons during the daytime and overnight.

Can Bearded Dragons Sleep With The Light On?

Bearded dragons do not need light in their tanks at night because complete darkness offers a more restful sleep. Leaving the light on may cause sleep disturbances resulting in stress and irritability in the morning. This could affect their moods and overall health throughout the next day.

Not only is leaving the lights on in the bearded dragon’s enclosure needless but it can also interfere with the ability to enjoy a restful sleep. It is understandable that new owners get confused about which way to go in terms of overnight lighting in the terrarium.

However, although lighting may serve as a heat source, the body temperatures of beardies and almost every animal drops during the night. Unless internal temperatures tumble below 59F, external heat sources are often unnecessary in the beardie’s enclosure after sundown.

Do Wild Bearded Dragons Enjoy overnight Light In Their Original Habitats?

man lights a lamp on the desert at night as beardie enthusiasts ask Do Wild Bearded Dragons Enjoy overnight Light In Their Original Habitats

Bearded dragons originate from the Australian deserts and arid regions where year-round sunshine lasts approximately 12-14 hours per day. Beardies essentially expect at least 12 hours of daily lighting to enjoy their days since basking in the sun increases their internal body temperatures.

Bearded dragons in the wild rely on daylight to regulate their sleep schedule via the rising sun which initiates the wake-up process in the morning. It serves as an indication to begin their day after 12 hours or so of restful sleep.

Wild bearded dragons enjoy guaranteed access to healthy lighting in their natural habitats but the situation can be completely different when domesticated. Owners are required to provide manual lighting in their enclosures for at least 12 hours during the daytime.

At night, beardies hide in the sand to conceal themselves from potential predators and this essentially translates to total darkness. Besides, there are no sources of lighting in the deserts and dry lands at night meaning bearded dragons are used to sleeping in complete darkness.

Basking Heat & Lighting

All bearded dragon enclosures require artificial lighting for proper illumination throughout the day. This lighting should be conveniently switched off at night to keep the pet lizard well informed about the time changes in its environment.

Avoid accidentally leaving the lighting on longer than necessary to prevent confusion in the beardie’s mind as to what time of the day it is and whether to go to bed or wake up. Ideally, the beardie’s cage lighting should be on for 12 hours and switched off for another 12 hours.

Fortunately, the majority of household light bulbs provide the necessary illumination for beardies in their enclosures. Experts recommend choosing 100-watt bulbs to guarantee not only the necessary lighting but enough heat to keep the reptile’s internal temperatures healthy.

If your bearded dragon’s current tank lighting features a low-watt bulb, a high-wattage replacement could ensure maximum illumination and protection from potentially life-threatening temperature drops during cold periods of the year.

Do Bearded Dragons Require Heating At Night?

The Australian deserts can be quite hot during the day when temperatures typically soar thanks to the scorching sun. However, the high temperatures decline after sundown as nighttime approaches until the sun rises again the next morning.

The temperature requirements of bearded dragons are low during the night which eliminates the need for external heat in most situations. Bearded dragons do not usually require the extra heat from the lighting bulbs after sundown.

The only exception may be residents of year-round cold cities or during the winter when drafts are allowed inside the home. Bearded dragons housed in basements could also use external heat during the night since such areas tend to be the coolest parts of the majority of homes.

In the absence of the above situations, bearded dragons have no need for overnight lighting as a means of ramping up their internal body temperatures. Also, cold-blooded creatures experience warmth as daytime approaches.

This essentially means providing extra heat via lighting can be overkill leading to excessively high internal body temperatures. Sleeping may be more difficult as the beardie battles with the unnecessary heat during the night.

Bearded dragons fare better in relatively cool environments that keep their internal body temperatures 60 F or above rather than in excessively hot enclosures. Beardies require temperatures of approximately 95 F to 105 F during the daytime and 65 F to 75 F at night.

Placing bearded dragons in enclosures with temperatures lower than 60 F can result in extreme discomfort and even brumation, a form of hibernation in reptiles. Manual interventions on the owner’s part to increase the temperature could come in handy. (Source)

But does this mean the tank lights should be left on overnight as the bearded dragon sleeps? No, owners are required to come up with alternatives to ramp up prevailing temperatures without illuminating the beardie’s tank.

A Ceramic Heat Emitter (CME) is popular since it produces heat without lighting which can come in handy during cold nights. The heat produced keeps the reptile’s body temperature at optimum levels without causing sleep disturbance.

The Bearded Dragon’s Body Clock

antique analog clock displays the time

Bearded dragons and other animals also have Circadian Rhythms or body clocks which dictate extensive physical activity during the daytime. At night, the reptile enjoys restful sleep to recharge its batteries which sets up their bodies to get ready for the next day’s activities.

The Circadian Rhythm indicates to the brain which hormones to release during different parts of the 24-hour cycle to aid in the reptile’s activities. Hormones that promote physical engagements are emitted during the daytime in the case of diurnal creatures like humans and bearded dragons.

More relaxing hormones are released at night to promote good sleep which fires up the body to active levels in the morning. Lighting the beardie’s cage during the night could send the wrong signals to the reptile’s brain.

This can lead to the release of the wrong hormones at night which may keep beardies tossing and turning. Affected bearded dragons are starved of good rest at night which takes a toll on their health and overall wellbeing.

Keeping the bearded dragon’s cage dark after sundown promotes the proper maintenance of the Circadian Rhythm which enables restful sleep at night.

Side Effects of Poor Lighting In The Bearded Dragon’s Tank

Excellent lighting is one of the most vital elements of the domesticated bearded dragon’s tank or enclosure. Here are a few side effects common in pet lizards housed in enclosures with poor lighting.

Mood Swings

Mood swings are common in bearded dragons that are robbed of adequate lighting in their tanks or enclosures. The reptiles are more likely to struggle during the daytime because of the failure to release the right hormones to stimulate active lifestyles.

Affected beardies become irritable and moody making them less likely to respond positively to their owner’s overtures to play.


Moody bearded dragons are less likely to enjoy good sleep at night which could translate to excessive stress during the daytime. Extreme edginess and aggression to even friendly folks like their owners are common among affected beardies.

Metabolic Bone Disease

vet with stethoscope

Poor lighting can also cause metabolic bone disease in affected bearded dragons. Symptoms of the condition include low appetites, weight loss, and an overall decline in their health and well-being resulting in shortened lifespans among captive bearded dragons.

What Time Should I Turn My Bearded Dragon’s Light On In The Morning?

The beardie’s tank light should be switched off from around 6 pm to 8 am the next day since they usually go to bed from 9 pm until 9 am the following day. Switching on the tank lights at 8 am alerts their bodies that it is time to wake up.

After resisting the urge for an hour or so, the domesticated bearded dragon should be finally up at 9 am. We recommend an automatic lighting schedule that switches on and off at the stipulated times to ensure flawless illumination when necessary.

Should I Wake My Bearded Dragon In The Morning?

bearded dragons lying down flat during the day time as owner inquires Should I Wake My Bearded Dragon In The Morning?

Never wake up bearded dragons in the morning unless necessary. They require up to 12 hours of sleep at night and should be up by themselves at some point in the morning depending on what time they drifted off the previous night.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Sleeping During The Day?

Poor enclosure lighting could trigger bearded dragons to sleep during the daytime when they are supposed to be awake and physically active. The lack of adequate lighting may trick their Circadian Rhythms into mixing up day and night.

Sleep hormones can be released during the daytime as a result which leads to extensive snoozing. Short naps are normal in bearded dragons but long sleep is a sign that something’s wrong with the lighting setup in their cages and should be looked at before the condition escalates.

Conclusion: Can Bearded Dragons Sleep With The Light On?

Bearded dragons should not sleep with the light on because it can interfere with the chances of enjoying restful nights. The illumination from the lights could trick the beardie’s Circadian Rhythm into believing it is still daytime leading to the release of hormones that promote physical activity.

The chances of good sleep could be minimal in enclosures illuminated overnight. Besides, the lighting also serves as a source of external heat which is usually unnecessary since beardies do not require as much heat overnight.

The extra heat may also interfere with their ability to enjoy much-needed shuteye to recharge their batteries.

Besides, leaving the lights on can lead to more stress since the bearded dragon is robbed of the quality sleep required for positive mental health. Beardies are more likely to show aggressive tendencies and other uncharacteristic traits due to the unbearable stress.

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