If your bearded dragon seems to be sleeping more than usual, it’s normal to be concerned. A sudden change in behavior can be a sign that something’s not quite right with your scaly friend.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Excessive sleeping in bearded dragons can be caused by improper heating and lighting, brumation/hibernation, inadequate diet and hydration, stress or illness. Check all husbandry factors and observe closely for other symptoms.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore all the possible reasons for a bearded dragon sleeping excessively. We’ll provide tips on creating the optimal habitat, diet, and care routine to ensure your dragon is happy and healthy.

Checking For The Signs of Brumanation

What is Brumation

Brumation is a reptile’s version of hibernation. It’s a period of dormancy characterized by lower body temperatures, slowed metabolism, and decreased activity levels. This is an innate biological response to shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures in the winter months.

In the wild, brumation helps reptiles conserve energy when food sources are scarce. For pet bearded dragons, brumation is triggered by temperature and lighting changes that mimic their natural habitat.

During brumation, bearded dragons will sleep much more than usual – sometimes up to 18-20 hours per day! They’ll also eat and drink far less. Their body temperature may even drop to 60-65°F, compared to their normal active range of 95-110°F.

These behavioral and physiological changes are all normal – just the dragon’s way of coping until spring returns.

Brumation vs. Hibernation

Although brumation is sometimes called “reptile hibernation,” there are a few key differences:

  • Hibernation involves a deep sleep close to comatose, while brumation is more of a light doze.
  • Hibernators, like bears, fully shut down their metabolisms. Reptiles in brumation maintain higher body temperatures and metabolism.
  • Hibernation lasts all winter while brumation may involve periods of normal activity between long sleeps.

So brumation is more like semi-hibernation. Bearded dragons never fully shut down – they just conserve energy by sleeping more than usual.

Normal Behavior During Brumation

Here are some common signs that a bearded dragon is brumating:

  • Sleeping more – up to 18+ hours a day
  • Eating and drinking much less, even refusing food on some days
  • Darker skin color, looking grayish instead of vibrant colors
  • Staying on the cool side of the tank and not basking much
  • Hiding more and being less active/lethargic when awake
  • Gaping mouth to regulate temperature
  • Slight weight loss since eating less

Bearded dragons may spend a few days to a few weeks sleeping deeply, then wake up for a normal active day before dozing off again. Brumation cycles can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the individual.

As long as the dragon is still alert and moves around when disturbed, there’s no need to worry. Just be sure to monitor their weight and appetitite. Consult a reptile vet if you notice extreme lethargy, weakness, or rapid weight loss.

Improper Heating and Lighting

Ideal Basking Temperatures

Providing improper temperatures is one of the most common reasons bearded dragons sleep excessively. Bearded dragons are cold-blooded and rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. They require a basking area between 95-110°F to properly thermoregulate and digest their food.

Without adequate heat, bearded dragons can experience reduced appetite, weakness, lethargy, and excessive sleeping.

To create an ideal basking area, use a high-quality incandescent or ceramic heat bulb positioned over one end of the tank. Measure the temperature directly under the bulb using a digital thermometer or temperature gun. Adjust the wattage or height as needed until optimal basking temps are reached.

Having a warm basking area is crucial for promoting normal bearded dragon activity levels.

Need for UVB Lighting

Exposure to UVB light is also essential for bearded dragons. UVB enables their bodies to produce vitamin D3 for proper calcium metabolism. Without UVB, they can suffer from metabolic bone disease leading to weak bones, muscle twitching, and abnormal sleep patterns.

Make sure to provide UVB for 10-12 hours per day. Use a reptile-specific linear tube bulb within 8-12 inches of the basking area. Replace bulbs every 6 months when UVB output declines. Allowing unfiltered sunlight into the enclosure can also provide natural UVB when possible.

Day/Night Photoperiods

In addition to heat and UVB lighting, maintaining proper day/night cycles is key for healthy bearded dragon activity levels. In the wild, they are diurnal lizards most active during daylight hours. At night, cooler temperatures and darkness trigger them to sleep.

Aim to recreate this day/night cycle in captivity. Provide 14 hours of daylight using overhead lighting followed by 10 hours of darkness at night. Avoid 24/7 light exposure which can disrupt natural sleep-wake rhythms. Use a timer to regulate photoperiods for consistency.

By ensuring proper lighting and temperatures are provided both day and night, keepers can promote normal bearded dragon sleep patterns and activity levels.

Inadequate Hydration and Diet

A bearded dragon’s sleep patterns can be disrupted by issues with hydration and nutrition. Improper access to water, low humidity, and nutritional imbalances may lead to excessive sleeping.

Water and Humidity Requirements

Bearded dragons receive much of their hydration from eating fruits and vegetables, but also need a fresh water source. Dehydration from lack of drinking water can cause fatigue. Ideal humidity levels in a bearded dragon’s tank should be 30-40%.

Humidity over 50% or under 20% can affect their breathing and activity levels.

Nutritional Imbalances

An improper ratio of protein, fruits/vegetables, and calcium supplementation can have many negative effects. Diets low in calcium can lead to limb tremors and lethargy. Too much protein can cause gout. Obesity from overfeeding can also reduce activity.

Consulting an exotic veterinarian to formulate a healthy, balanced diet specific to your bearded dragon’s age may help optimize sleep cycles.

Appetite Changes With Age

A bearded dragon’s nutritional needs change as they mature. Hatchlings need feedings 3 times a day, juveniles twice a day, and adults just once daily. Their appetite naturally decreases with age. Monitor your bearded dragon’s weight as they grow.

Sudden loss of appetite in adults can indicate brumation, a hibernation-like cycle, or signal illness requiring a vet visit.

Bearded Dragon Age Recommended Daily Feedings
0-4 months 2-3 times per day
4-12 months 1-2 times per day
12+ months Once per day

Monitoring water intake, adjusting humidity, feeding an age-appropriate diet, and looking for signs of brumation can all help determine if unusual sleep patterns have an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

Consult an exotic pet veterinarian if changes persist despite troubleshooting husbandry factors.

Stress and Other Health Issues

Signs of Stress

Bearded dragons can exhibit various signs of stress, including changes in behavior and appearance. Common signs of stress include:

  • Lethargy – An overly sleepy or sluggish bearded dragon may be stressed.
  • Loss of appetite – Stress can lead to lack of interest in food.
  • Darkening color – Stressed bearded dragons can turn darker brown or black.
  • Pacing or attempts to escape – Repeated motions along the enclosure walls or glass surfing indicate your bearded dragon wants out.
  • Aggression – Stress may cause uncharacteristically aggressive behavior like gaping, arm waving, or biting.

If your bearded dragon is showing these behaviors, examine its habitat and care routine for possible stressors. Common causes of stress include improper heating/lighting, lack of appropriate hiding spots, overhandling, or harassment from other pets.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic bone disease (MBD) is a common health issue seen in captive reptiles. MBD occurs when bearded dragons lack proper nutrients like calcium, vitamin D3, and phosphorus in their diet. Without these building blocks, their bones and joints become weak and deformed over time.

Severe MBD can cause symptoms like:

  • Rubbery or swollen jaws
  • Twisted limbs or spine (especially in baby dragons)
  • Reluctance to move around
  • Bone fractures

Providing correct temperatures and UVB exposure are crucial for allowing bearded dragons to properly synthesize vitamin D3 for calcium metabolism. Their feeder insects should also be gut loaded and dusted with calcium/D3 supplements 1-2 times per week.

Catching MBD early improves recovery odds dramatically.

Infections and Parasites

Infections and parasites can definitely lead to lethargy in bearded dragons. Crypto, adenovirus, atadenovirus, coccidia, pinworms, and other pathogens target the gut especially. Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea or unusual droppings
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Vomiting in extreme cases
  • Inactivity due to weakness or abdominal discomfort

Good husbandry and sanitation helps prevent infectious disease. Quarantining new dragons for 30-45 days allows you to monitor them for illness too. If infection is suspected, fecal tests and vet care can identify the culprit for proper treatment.

Conclusion

While some extra sleep may be normal, significant lethargy is always cause for attention. By ensuring proper husbandry, nutrition and hydration, reducing stress, and watching closely for other symptoms, you can get your bearded dragon back to an active, healthy routine.

With the proper care and habitat, most bearded dragons live happy, active lives for 10 or more years. If you have any concerns about your dragon’s health or behavior, consult an exotic veterinarian for exam and testing.

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