Like humans, bearded dragons sleep through the night, whether they're in the wild or in captivity. Their day and night cycle is called the photoperiod. Their sleeping time habits are dictated by their environment, which can change day to day. By studying the few sleeping habits that remain constant among bearded dragons in the wild, we can better understand how to treat them in captivity.
Bearded dragons are naturally found in the deserts, grasslands and woodlands of Australia; therefore their bedding can vary depending on their location. Among those environments, sand is one of the most common and comfortable bedding options for a bearded dragon. Sand is soft against their belly and retains the sun's heat which keeps the lizard warm throughout the night. In captivity, sand is an excellent option for a bearded dragon's habitat.
Bearded dragons will often fall asleep right after eating a meal, so they use their sleeping time to digest their meal. No matter what time of day or night they are sleeping, a bearded dragon will usually find a warm spot, often a sun-drenched rock or branch, to make their bed. A bearded dragon in captivity will need rocks and a heat lamp in their habitat to accommodate this.
A bearded dragons' sleep habits are directly dictated by daylight. In the wild, their photoperiod varies with the seasons. In summer, a bearded dragon will stay awake 14 hours day and sleep for 10 hours at night. During winter, this pattern is reversed. To mimic these light patterns for pet bearded dragons, a timed light and heater can be installed in their vivarium.
Bearded dragons fall asleep very quickly, and so those that are kept in captivity can get themselves into some very strange positions at night because they don't have a dusk-period to their day. A bearded dragon in a vivarium will generally fall asleep in whichever position they are in, when the lights suddenly go off. To help a bearded dragon pet get into a more comfortable position before sleeping, have their habitat light set to a timer and a dimmer.