Unlike some animals, chickens do not have night vision - in fact, they're often referred to as having 'night blindness'.
So, do chickens need light at night, or will they get a better night's sleep in the dark?
The answer is that chickens do like it to be dark while they sleep, and it's better for their overall health and well-being to sleep in darkness.
Here's a closer look at the pros and cons of creating a dark sleeping environment for chickens and some of their sleeping habits.
Do Chickens Need Light at Night?
Chickens are interesting creatures, and they have a range of different sleeping habits.
So, don't be surprised to find a chicken that is an exception to any rule.
That said, for the most part, chickens do like it to be dark while they sleep.
This is because chickens are 'crepuscular' by nature, which means that they are most active at dawn and dusk.
Anyone with a rooster will be very familiar with how active roosters are at the crack of dawn!
During the day, chickens will often take a few naps, but they will be up and about for the majority of the time.
As dusk starts to fall, chickens will start to head back to their coop to roost for the night.
This is when they like it to be dark, as it helps them to feel safe and secure.
Chickens are prey animals, so they feel vulnerable when they are out in the open and exposed.
The dark provides some comfort, but chickens also don't like it to be pitch black as they will feel anxious about predators being able to sneak up on them.
Related - Should a chicken coop have windows to let night light in?
Can Chickens Sleep With Light On?
Chickens can technically sleep with the light on, but it's not ideal for their overall health and well-being.
Chickens need a good amount of light to lay eggs and maintain good health, around 16 hours per day, but any more than that can be detrimental to their health.
A little moonlight or light coming into their coop from other outside sources is fine, but you should not leave a light on in their coop overnight.
Should a Chicken Coop Have a Night Light?
While chickens don't need a light on in their coop overnight, you may find that it's helpful to have a night light of some sort.
This is especially true if you have young chicks as they can be easily scared by the dark.
A night light will also help you to see your chickens when you go to check on them, which can really come in handy when avoiding stepping in poop!
I know some people who have night lights on a timer and use them to help their chickens see what they're doing while they settle in for the night.
This can reduce the confusion if you suddenly lock them up in a pitch dark coop.
How Many Hours of Darkness Do Chickens Need?
Chickens need around 8 hours of darkness per day to recharge and maintain good health.
This is based on the fact that chickens need around 16 hours of good sunlight to stimulate and facilitate egg production, so at the very least they deserve the other 8 hours off to recharge!
If you can hear your hens clucking away in the night, don't worry - you don't need to stress or worry about a few hours either way.
Chickens are smart and adaptable creatures, as long as you're providing a secure coop where it's dark, they'll get enough sleep.
Are Chickens Scared of the Dark?
Chickens are not typically scared of the dark, but they do like it to be a little bit lighter at night.
As we mentioned before, chickens are prey animals and feel vulnerable when they're out in the open and exposed.
The darkness provides some comfort, but if it's pitch black they will feel anxious about predators being able to sneak up on them.
I know what you're thinking, there are no predators in your backyard and they can sleep nice and sound without a worry.
However, being mindful of predators is something that's innate to chickens and is what's helped them survive thousands of years in the wild.
In the wild, chickens roost up high in trees.
This helps them avoid ground predators, and they'll also sleep with one eye open to literally keep one eye out for predators and other dangers.
This is also why chickens sleep on roosting bars in coops, to mimic the feeling of safety they get from being in trees, and they still keep an eye open.
Related - More on whether or not chickens can see infrared light.
Chickens need good sunlight during the day, but at night they're much happier sleeping under the cover of darkness.
Ideally, you have a nice and secure coop for your chickens with a roosting bar and a little bit of night light.
This is all they need to feel safe and secure and get a good night's sleep!