When And Where do Sharks Sleep: Several Facts


When And Where do Sharks Sleep: Several Facts

Sleep is vital for life. It is the process by which our bodies are renewed. That being said, various living organisms sleep at different times, in different patterns, and in different places.

It’s amazing to learn that the ocean’s apex predators spend time relaxing, though not sleeping. Instead, sharks prefer to sleep at the ocean’s deepest depths, where the water is calmer. However, it is unknown why the majority of sharks favor this. On the other hand, Sharks do not have a set sleep pattern.

When And Where do Sharks Sleep
Image Credit: White-Tipped Fin by LASZLO ILYES (CC BY 2.0) from Wikimedia

There are many other intriguing facts about sharks’ sleeping habits and locations. And we’ve covered all of them in this article.

This is a non-fiction article written to inform people about sharks. As a result, we are certain that you will have a better grasp of these powerful and smirking ocean predators by the end of it.

Hence, let’s start our journey!

Do sharks sleep at night?

We humans and most other animals and birds prefer sleeping at night. The night is the resting time for most living organisms on earth.

But the night is not a specific sleeping or resting time for sharks. In fact, in some shark species, like the hammerheads, it has been found that they spend their daytime sluggishly while hunting activity during the nighttime. 

That said, sharks do not follow the general circadian rhythms, which involve sleeping at night and being awake during the daytime. Instead, these fishes prefer to sleep or rest when their instinct asks them to. 

Do all sharks sleep at night?

Sharks do not have any particular sleep cycle. They sleep when they feel so. But can it be asserted that all sharks sleep at night like most living beings?

Actually, the reality is different because some studies on sharks have asserted that these fishes are nocturnal, i.e. they remain active during the nighttime. However, scientists have observed that most sharks tend to remain sluggish throughout the day while actively swimming at night. 

In this regard, certain investigations conducted in a controlled environment revealed that shark species such as the Horn shark went into activity mode as soon as the lights were turned off and stopped once the lights were turned back on. It also highlighted sharks’ penchant for being activated directly by environmental light, with energetic behavior in the dark and sedentary behavior in the light.

Do sharks sleep in the daytime?

The threat of sharks is an obvious thing for people heading towards the beach in summer. Hence, it may help understand if sharks hunt or sleep during the daytime.

There is no specific sleep cycle of sharks. Therefore, we cannot confirm if they sleep during the daytime or at night. Nonetheless, when their daily pattern is followed, it was found that most shark attacks take place between sunset and sunrise. This, therefore, can safely point towards the fact the sharks prefer to rest or go in a trance phase during the daytime.

However, most sharks spend the day far offshore and come closer to the beach in search of prey after sunset. Shark fishers have taken advantage of this behavior by fishing at night when the toothy monsters approach the coast.

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Do sharks sleep in groups?

Image Credit: Hammerhead sharks in a group from Maxpixel

Sharks are known to be lone creatures. They are not very social or prefer to stay in groups. Most of them even prefer to hunt alone and roam alone beneath the water surface.

The same thing can be stated for most sharks as far as their sleeping pattern is concerned. However, one species of shark that displays an exception is the Whitetip shark. It has been observed that these sharks prefer to sleep by piling on each other like logs. 

Sharks are not really fond of creating bonds. But the Whitetip sharks congregate in groups, frequently under cliffs or in small caverns during the daytime to rest. They also prefer to patrol their area in groups, searching for prey at night. 

Do sharks sleep when they feel tired?

Isn’t it interesting that sharks also take time out to rest? Although they don’t really sleep, they specifically oscillate between wakeful and restful periods throughout the day.

Sharks generally sleep or slip into a restful break session because their instinct says so and not because they feel tired. There is no evidence to date which confirms that these fishes sleep out of tiredness, as most living creatures do. 

It’s worth noting that, while most sharks don’t follow the standard day-night sleeping schedule, they do have their circadian rhythm, which is an internal clock that tells them when they should relax.

On the other hand, many other shark species have no internal timer and prefer to rest when they are full and in a somewhat safe location.

Do sharks swim when they sleep?

Any fish’s life revolves around swimming. And it isn’t easy to imagine them suddenly ceasing to swim and survive.

The same may be said for several shark species, which must move or swim even while resting. Sharks must do so for the water to flow over their gills, as they have the buccal pumping system. On the other hand, sharks with spirals can pull water through the gills when their mouths are closed and stop swimming while resting.

White sharks, for example, do not stop moving even when they rest. Rather than sleeping deeply, these sharks have been seen to alternate between active and restful phases.

Sharks that keep on swimming when resting are said to “sleep swim” when a part of their brain remains active, and they never lose full consciousness. Sharks like the whitetip reef shark, Caribbean reef shark, nurse shark, wobbegong, and lemon shark, on the other hand, can rest in a stationary position.

Do sharks close their eyes during sleep?

Image Credit: A shark with open eyes from Hippopx

Because they lack eyelids, most fish cannot blink or close their eyes. However, if you focus, you’ll see that they sleep or rest with their eyes wide open.

The same can be stated for sharks, except for some of them, as they also do not possess any eyelids. As a result, their eyes remain open even when they go into a trance-like state to rest. That being said, sharks like the bronze whaler shark blink occasionally with the help of the nictitating membranes, which act as the third eyelid.

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On the bottom and top parts of sharks’ eyes are nictitating membranes. When they attack prey, this membrane protects their eyes from potential abrasion.

So, we can say that, even while “sleeping,” sharks are aware of their environment and potential prey. Remember, eyes play a big role in sharks’ lives and hunting abilities. 

Why do sharks go to sleep when upside down?

The upside-down position highlights the tonic immobility condition. It’s also known as the phase of animal trance, and it’s something sharks can do.

Sharks, on the other hand, do not normally sleep upside down. However, if they use the yo-yo swimming technique, they may appear to be slipping back into the water while resting without exerting any effort to drift along with the ocean current.

Sharks, however, occasionally turn upside down and exhibit tonic immobility, which is distinct from their resting period. This phase is most commonly observed in sharks as part of their breeding behavior.

When sharks are attacked by predators such as Killer Whales, their upside-down stance can often be fatal. Killer whales, often known as orcas, have been seen dragging sharks into upside-down positions to attack and consume them.

Where do sharks sleep?

Unless they are hunting at the ocean’s surface, most sharks are found in deep water. Furthermore, most shark species can see through the darkness, which works to their advantage deep beneath the surface.

The majority of sharks have been discovered sleeping near the ocean floor. Leopard sharks, for example, live near the seafloor and prefer to spend their time there. On the other hand, most scientists aren’t sure where sharks prefer to sleep. Sharks prefer sleeping in the deepwater because there is less commotion.

Where do sharks sleep at night?

The night is a great time for humans and other living beings to rest and sleep. Most of us prefer night because we follow the general circadian rhythm.

The night is not the best time for sharks to sleep. Sharks, in reality, do not have a set sleeping schedule and rest whenever their instincts tell them to. However, they like deep ocean nooks, caverns, coral reefs, and sand beds when they sleep.

That being said, sharks have no strict preference for day or night. The majority of sharks, including hammerheads, prefer to rest during the day and hunt in packs at night.

Do sharks sleep on the ground?

Shark sleeping patterns have long been a bit of a puzzle. When they sleep, how they sleep, and where they sleep are all factors to consider.

In most circumstances, sharks prefer to sleep or rest on sea beds rather than on the ground. Some sharks engage in a technique known as yo-yo swimming, in which they just begin gliding downwards. They do this until they reach the bottom of the ocean, then swim up to the surface and repeat the process.

In this context, scientists discovered a group of different sharks at the bottom of a cave in Mexico in a study. The cave was an underwater spring, and the freshwater intake helped the sharks. As a result, they got drawn towards it and preferred to rest there.

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Do sharks sleep near the water surface?

Sharks, as previously stated, do not have a set sleeping pattern. Instead, throughout the day, they alternate between restful and awake times.

Most sharks prefer to rest on the seafloor or the seabed rather than on the water’s surface. Sharks, on the surface, indicate that they are busy and on the lookout for prey. Sharks are generally nocturnal, and when they hunt, you can locate them near the beach or on the water’s surface after sunset.

Where do great white sharks sleep?

Scientists have been perplexed by shark sleeping patterns. And it’s always been a subject of curiosity to learn more about these ocean predators’ sleeping habits.

Scientists have discovered that great white sharks prefer to rest for long periods in little gullies in the water while tracking them. The majority of them would rather face into a current, allowing water to travel over their gills without having to move rapidly.

Where do hammerhead sharks sleep?

Image Credit: A hammerhead shark from Maxpixel

Hammerheads are one of the fascinating shark species out there. Scientists have been studying these sharks and have given special attention because they are endangered.

Hammerhead sharks are only active at night. They prefer to stay and relax around shallow water, whereas great hammerhead sharks prefer deep waters. Hammerhead sharks use buccal pumpers and cheeks to transport water inside and through their gills. As a result, they go through rest periods when their brains are less active.

Where do whale sharks sleep?

Due to their humongous size, these sharks are named whale sharks. Other than the name, there is no similarity between a whale and a whale shark.

Whale sharks are generally found in shallow water, even when resting, because they have a physiological need to keep swimming.

Where do tiger sharks sleep?

Tiger sharks get their name from their unique color pattern. These sharks are among the largest, reaching up to 550 cm.

Tiger sharks are most commonly seen near the coast or in shallow water. The reason behind this is their buccal pumping mechanism that makes it crucial for them to keep on swimming even when sleeping.

Where do bull sharks sleep?

Bull sharks are one of the world’s biggest shark species. But unfortunately, according to experts, they are also one of the most dangerous sharks on the planet.

Even when they’re resting, bull sharks like to stay in shallow water. However, these species do not fall into a profound slumber because they must continue to swim to survive. As a result, they stay partially active with their eyes open during their brief resting period.


Sharks are incredible creatures. They are both apex predators and prey, and scientists constantly research them to understand more. In addition, their sleeping patterns are fascinating aspects of their nature that specialists have yet to comprehend fully. As a result, this article has been designed to compile all accessible information regarding sharks resting in one place. It’s an interesting article, and we hope you have learned something new from reading it.

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