Cat Sleep Cycle

Cat Sleep Cycle

If your cat tends to be alert during dawn when you are in deep slumber, you are not alone.  Cats are often awake at night but sleep most of the day. 

Cat sleep cycle: What you need to know 

The average sleep cycle of cats has a duration of more or less 104 minutes. The cycle has approximately 26-minute wakefulness and a 79-minute sleep episode with an estimated average of 2.6 REM sleep epochs per sleep episode. This information is based on electrographic data gathered from observations of sleeping cats.

Cats experience two sleep stages, the REM or rapid eye movement and the non-REM.  As they doze off they slip into a slow-wave and light sleep which is the non-REM stage and eventually move to a deep sleep or REM stage. During the REM stage, cats dream just like humans and this is manifested by twitching tails, paws and whiskers while some may also snore and make queer noises.  While they are in the non-REM stage, cats may sleep with their eyes open although some cats may do this despite being in deep sleep. 

According to scientists, the light sleep or non-REM stage has a duration of 15 to 30 minutes and during this time cats remain alert and ready to protect themselves in the blink of an eye. They can even sleep while in a sitting position with their muscles stiffening to hold them upright so they can spring into action quickly if there is a threat. As cats move from light sleep to deep sleep or REM state, they tend to stretch out and roll to one side but this stage usually lasts only six minutes compared to humans who experience it for around 90 to 120 minutes. 

On average, cats sleep for 12 to 16 hours although some may sleep for up to 20 hours during a 24-hour period. They usually have short and long naps in-between instead of one big chunk of sleep like humans do. Interestingly, cats are crepuscular creatures and they are most active between dusk and dawn. They may spend their waking hours at night just playing, pouncing or prowling to mimic hunting but are mostly asleep during daytime especially when the weather is cold. 

How long is a cat’s sleep cycle?

A cat’s sleep cycle has a duration of more or less 104 minutes based on gathered data. Cats can sleep from 16 to 20 hours during a 24-hour period and have two sleep stages, the light sleep or non-REM and the deep sleep or REM stage. The former can last between 15 to 30 minutes while the REM stage usually lasts for six minutes. 

Why do cats sleep all day?

Cats sleep all day as they have evolved to do so due to their nutritional habits and physiology.  Although cats are domesticated and do not need to hunt, they still possess the instinct to sleep and prepare to hunt just like their wild cousins that need to sleep all day to conserve energy to be able to hunt and chase their prey in the night. 

Do cats sleep through the night?

Most cats do not sleep through or continuously through the night. They usually spend alternating periods of sleeping and becoming awake and active overnight. This may not apply to all domestic cats though since some also sleep for long periods through the night.   

How long does a cat sleep in 24 hours?

A cat can sleep for 16 hours in a 24-hour period while some may sleep for up to 20 hours.  An important factor that influences how long a cat sleeps is its age. Kittens will sleep most of the day but as they grow older they may sleep less and become more active. Senior cats also tend to sleep longer compared to adult cats since they have slower activity levels.  Another factor that influences how long cats sleep is the weather. Felines tend to sleep more during cold and chilly weather. 

Take precautionary measures if you notice that your cat is sleeping more than usual.  She may have an underlying health condition if she is excessively sleeping or she may have hyperthyroidism if she is sleeping less and becoming hyperactive. 


Cats are playful and energetic but they also relish their sleeping hours. They sleep for 16 to 20 hours in a 24-hour period and have two sleep stages, the non-REM and REM or rapid eye movement stage. Felines are crepuscular creatures and active between dusk and dawn and they tend to sleep most of the day because they have evolved to to conserve energy for their next hunting adventure. 

Image: / Nils Jacobi