Why Is Your Bearded Dragon Sleeping Upright?

Bearded dragons often exhibit a variety of strange behaviors, especially when it comes to their sleeping positions.

Beardies are known for being able to fall asleep in unusual places and odd positions in their enclosure.

One of the most common positions to cause alarm for bearded dragon owners is when their reptile sleeps while remaining upright.

As a general rule, when a bearded dragon sleeps in an upright position, it is not a cause for concern. Bearded dragons seem to enjoy sleeping while standing up, with their belly pressed against the side of their enclosure. While worrisome, there is no need to worry if your pet displays this odd behavior.

Seeing a bearded dragon sleeping upright is actually quite an amusing sight, and anyone who has ever owned a beardie has most likely witnessed it at least once.

Keep reading for more information on what causes a bearded dragon to sleep upright, and learn more about their other unusual sleeping habits.

bearded dragon sleeping upright

Why Do Bearded Dragons Sleep Upright?

While it is not entirely clear why bearded dragons sleep upright, there are a few possibilities which might explain this odd behavior.

There is nothing inherently harmful about your beardie sleeping upright, and it is a very common behavior among this reptile species.

We will take a more in-depth look at some of the causes to unlock the mystery of why your beardie is choosing to sleep this way.

Incorrect Temperature

Bearded dragons in captivity require a temperature gradient in their enclosure in order for the animal to remain comfortable. 

Since these reptiles are ectothermic, they rely completely on environmental sources to regulate their body temperature.

The overall ambient temperature should range from 75-85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C), and there should be a warmer basking area with a temperature between 95-105° degrees Fahrenheit (41° C). 

Beardies need these warmer temperatures to regulate important bodily functions such as digestion, sexual readiness, and sleep.

When a bearded dragon sleeps while standing on its hind legs with its stomach pressed against the glass of the enclosure, it may be attempting to cool down its own body temperature. 

Bearded dragons require slightly cooler temperatures at night, usually between 70-75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C), to get a good night’s sleep.

If you notice your beardie is sleeping upright on a regular basis, you should check the tank temperature to ensure it is not getting too warm for your lizard. 

Humidity levels should also be checked using a hygrometer to ensure the enclosure is not too damp. 

You may need to purchase a larger enclosure for your beardie if the current one is not large enough for a proper temperature gradient.

A bearded dragon will also lighten its body color when it is too hot, so if you notice a color change in your beardie to almost white when it is sleeping, this is a good sign the enclosure is too hot at night.

And there are several other reasons your pet may turn white also so check out our post on bearded dragons turning white.

Stress

Stress will cause your beardie to display some strange behaviors, with the most notable being known as “glass surfing.” 

Glass surfing is when your bearded dragon keeps attempting to climb the glass of their enclosure in an attempt to escape.

Glass surfing behavior occurs when a beardie’s habitat is too small, there are improper temperatures or lighting, or when the animal sees its own reflection. 

Some beardies may even start glass surfing out of boredom.

If you see your beardie sleeping upright at night and frequently glass surfing during the day, there is a possibility the animal fell asleep as it was attempting to climb out.

To relieve stress in your beardie, you need to provide them with a large enclosure and ensure there is a proper temperature gradient. 

If the stress seems to be caused by your pet seeing its reflection, use a terrarium wrap to prevent this from happening.

Providing your beardie with a clean, comfortable, and calm environment will keep them from getting overstressed and developing health issues.

They Like It

If you have tried the previous remedies and notice your beardie is still sleeping upright, it is possible your pet is doing it out of enjoyment.

In the wild, it is very common for bearded dragons to sleep on the sides of trees or branches. 

If your beardie does not have many branches in its enclosure, it may choose to sleep upright against the side of its habitat.

If you practice good husbandry and your beardie is well fed, hydrated, and properly housed, there is no reason to worry about their upright sleeping position.

New and strange behaviors are very common in bearded dragons, and you will probably see your beardie do some bizarre things during its lifetime. 

It is important not to be alarmed at every odd behavior your reptile displays. 

By monitoring your beardie on a regular basis, you will soon learn to tell the difference between normal and potentially harmful behavior.

When Do Bearded Dragons Sleep?

Bearded dragons are diurnal animals, which means they are active during the day and they sleep at night.

Keeping a steady light schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off will help your beardie establish a circadian rhythm.

Beardies like to go to sleep when it gets dark, so it is best to ensure your reptile’s enclosure is in a dark room at night. 

Any sort of light will disturb your beardie’s sleep cycle, even night lights.

Bearded dragons will typically sleep between 8-10 hours every night. 

Purchasing a lighting timer will allow you to program their enclosure lights to automatically turn on and off at the intervals you set, and it is a great way to make sure you do not accidentally leave the light on at night.

Do Bearded Dragons Have Other Sleeping Habits?

Aside from sleeping upright, there are a few other sleeping habits of bearded dragons worth noting.

Sleeping For Long Periods (Brumation)

Brumation is very similar to hibernation, except the beardie will still need to eat and drink. 

In the wild, brumation takes place during the cold winter months, and it allows the beardie to conserve its energy during the harsh weather.

Although brumation does not happen as often in captivity due to the constant warm temperatures of a beardie’s enclosure, it is still possible.

Brumation typically lasts from 1-3 months, and during this period of time, you will notice your beardie is sleeping for most of the day. 

You should still be providing your reptile with food and fresh water every day just in case it gets hungry.

Here is our complete guide on bearded dragon brumation.

Changing Color

Beardies have the ability to darken their body to get warmer and lighten their body when they need to cool down.

Changing to a pale or white color is most common when a beardie is sleeping. 

Since beardies prefer cooler temperatures at night for sleeping, they may lighten their skin to keep cool. 

Beardies are also known to lighten their color while sleeping because they are very relaxed and comfortable.

Covering Themselves

Sometimes, beardies like to cover themselves in loose substrate to go to sleep.

This is completely normal behavior, and as long as you have determined your beardie isn’t burying themselves to escape a harsh light or another bearded dragon, there is nothing to worry about.

Breathing Slowly

Bearded dragons are able to slow down their respiratory rate and metabolism when they sleep.

You might even check on your beardie at night and wonder if it is breathing at all. 

This may be very shocking, and you should check to ensure everything is ok with your pet. 

Over time, you will be able to tell when this shallow breathing is just a normal habit of your beardie and when it may be a sign of something serious. 

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