Do Chickens Sleep With Their Eyes Open

Do Chickens Sleep With Their Eyes Open? (Just One Eye!)

Have you ever seen a chicken sleeping?

If not, or at least if you don’t think you have, you’re not alone.

Unless you’re raising backyard chickens and you visit them in their coop at night, it’s unlikely that you’ve ever seen a chicken sleeping.

Even if you have seen a chicken sleeping, the thing that confuses people is that it appears as if chickens sleep with one eye open – because they do! 

Chickens have some pretty interesting sleeping habits, here’s everything you’ll ever need to know about how chickens sleep!

Do Chickens Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

I always heard rumors that chickens slept with their eyes open, and this was a way that they were able to be aware of predators approaching in the wild.

There is some truth to this.

Chickens actually sleep with one eye open, their right eye, and this is so that they can keep an eye out for predators and other threats.

Wild chickens can be traced back thousands of years to the tropical jungles of Southeast Asia, so it’s safe to say they’re very adept at surviving.

A key to this survival is being able to sense or spot danger and escape. So, sleeping with one eye open is an evolutionary adaptation that has been pivotal to their survival.

Chickens also take to the trees or some other higher ground to sleep as it’s safer than being on the ground.

This is why they like to sleep on roosting bars in their coop, even if it’s not technically high off the ground.

On a side note, this might be where the saying, “Sleep with one eye open” probably comes from when someone is explaining they need to be on their guard.

Related Here’s a look at where wild chickens sleep.

What Do Chickens Dream About?

It may sound silly, but I think all pet owners ponder over what their pets may be dreaming or thinking about.

I think it’s because we want to know that they’re happy, right? But, whether it’s a cat, dog, or a chicken, unfortunately, we can’t know what they dream about.

What we do know is that according to, chickens do dream. Just like cats and dogs, chickens experience rapid-eye-movement (REM) while they sleep.

It’s during REM when we do most of our dreaming. This is why scientists say that they’re sure chickens also dream in their sleep.

If we had to take a guess as to what chickens dream about…well, I’d guess it’s about chasing bugs around, scratching for bits of food, and hopefully seeing us and hearing our voices.

We tend to think animals dream about all the things that happen in their day-to-day lives, and the things that make them happy – and I like that line of thought.

There’s no evidence that chickens are capable of having an imagination, so I doubt they dream about some of the wild and crazy things we do!

What Do Chickens Look Like When They Sleep?

If you’ve ever wondered what chickens look like while they’re sleeping, you can take a look for yourself by watching this video:

As you can see, in this video the chickens are sleeping on a hammock-type flat perch together in their coop.

They are sleeping in various positions. Some chickens like to ‘loaf’, a bit like a cat. Some tuck their heads in, some are more upright, some huddle up to share warmth, and so on.

There is no one set position that chickens sleep in; some of it comes down to their individual personalities.

What you’ll also notice as the camera pans around is that most of the chickens have their right eye open.

One chicken even opens its eye as it senses the person approaching, and others have just their third eyelid covering their eye for a little protection.

This is definitely one of a chicken’s best evolutionary adaptations that have enabled them to escape many predators, I’m sure.

How Many Hours a Day Do Chickens Sleep?

Chickens sleep for around 8 hours per night. This is the optimal amount for them to maintain good health and be rested for the following day.

Not too dissimilar to us, is it?

The best time for chickens to be locked in their coop for ‘bedtime’ or to go to sleep varies depending on the weather and time of year.

Most owners agree that shortly before dusk is the best time to round up the chooks and get them in their coop.

They might not go straight to sleep, but with their roosting bar, perches, and other places to sleep inside their coop they’ll go to sleep when they’re ready to.

In Summary

Chickens sleep with one eye open, not two. This enables them to balance getting some quality sleep, while literally keeping an eye out for predators or other threats.

It’s their right eye that they keep open, and chickens sleeping on a roosting bar will cleverly arrange themselves so that they have a lookout on either side of the bar.

This doesn’t interrupt their sleep though. Chickens experience REM, just as we do, and are capable of dreaming, too.


Image credits – Photo by Sarah Halliday on Unsplash

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