The Not-So Secret Sleeping Habits of Cats

Posted by Rachel Marshall - Brand Manager on 3rd Aug 2023

The Not-So Secret Sleeping Habits of Cats

Every cat parent is well aware of the staggering amount of time their feline friends spend sleeping. After all, they wouldn’t dub afternoon snoozes as cat naps without good reason would they? And so, in celebration of national cat day, we decided to learn a little more about the sleeping habits of these 4-legged family members.

With around 60% of cat owners snuggling up with their furry companions at bedtime regardless of their very different sleep routines (1), we at Bensons were eager to learn more. So, let’s find out how much cats actually sleep. And why! Scroll on to learn more.

A woman sitting in a chair cuddling her cat.

When is international cat day?

International Cat Day is an annual celebration that falls on 8 August every year. The first annual international cat day was hosted in 2002. And it was the International Fund for Animal Welfare that initiated this recognised celebration of our beloved pets (2).

The intention of international cat day is to raise awareness for cats and to help us learn about the various different ways we can help and protect them.

How much time do cats spend sleeping each day?

Over 50% of cats sleep somewhere between 12 and 18 hours every single day. What’s more, a staggering 40% of the feline population spend more than 18 hours a day snoozing (3).

And this sleeping habit only gains more dedication the older a cat gets. Most cats rack up their tally of hours of slept each day as they age when compared with how much they slept when they were younger.

How long do cats sleep at a time?

Cats have what is known as a polyphasic sleep pattern (4). This basically translates to them sleeping several times a day rather than in one, long period, like we do.

Each nap your cat takes averages around 78 minutes at a time. But, typically a cat sleeps in increments ranging from 50 to 113 minutes (5).

Do cats have different stages of sleep?

Much like us, cat sleep stages can be categorised. These sleep stage categories are slightly different to ours though. A cat will typically experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and a transition stage. NREM is the first sleep stage your kitty will drift into. And after this, they will either wake up or move through to the transition sleep stage, that will lead to your cat reaching the REM sleep stage (6).

What is NREM sleep?

Research has led to the identification of rhythmic brain waves in cats. These are comparable to slow wave sleep, also known as deep sleep (7).

And, just like us, cats experience onsets of speedy brain waves (also known as sleep spindles) that occur during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep (8). In humans, sleep spindles are widely associated with our memories. They also help to maintain our sleep by blocking out potential disruptions (9). Cat sleep spindles are different from those we experience. But they also occur during the transition to REM sleep, and so, researchers believe they serve similar functionality in cats (10).

But, before entering the NREM sleep stage, cats often experience a period of high activity which is sometimes referred to as zoomies (9). Following these zoomies, your cat will become drowsy which will lead to them falling into the NREM sleep stage (10).

While your cat is in the NREM stage of sleep, they may be sleeping very lightly and ready to awake and revert to the pre-sleep stage of alertness at the drop of a hat. And thus the recycling through alertness, drowsiness, and NREM sleep begins. This can happen several times before you cat makes it through to the REM stage of sleep.

How to tell if your cat is in the REM sleep stage

You’ll know whether or not your cat is experiencing REM sleep by whether or not they are making quick eye movements. While your cat is in the REM stage of sleep, they will also exhibit occasional twitches.

How do cat sleep habits differ from ours?

We humans are most active during the day and prefer to spend the night time sleeping. This makes us diurnal.

Cats, on the other hand, are crepuscular. This means that they are most active during periods of twilight (or during the hours as the sun sets and rises).

But, being the sociable creatures they are, some cats will adjust their sleeping habits somewhat so that they can spend more time with their people (13). Nawww!

Should I let my can sleep in bed with me?

Well, we’re not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. But the truth is that there are both pros and cons to allowing your cat to share your bed.

Cuddling up to your cat at night can help reduce stress. And it has the potential to help you fall asleep faster too.

But, given their sleep-wake patterns, your sleep may suffer some disruption.

And it’s worth noting that anyone with a compromised immune system who is at a higher risk for contracting diseases from animals may be best avoiding sharing their bed with their cat (14).

Our resident sleep expert, Dr Sophie Bostock says "Many people sleep with their pets believing that it helps them to relax, feel more secure and to sleep better. Research evidence suggests that people who share their beds with a canine companion or a feline friend take longer to fall asleep, have more disturbed sleep during the night, and are more likely to wake up tired."

Final thoughts

Cats make great companions. And International Cat Day poses the perfect opportunity for you to spend some one-on-one time with your feline friend. But it's also wise to make sure you keep up with your cat’s flea treatments if you do share your bed with your furry friend.

Plus, it’sa great time for anyone who regularly shares their bed with their cat to consider whether it’s time for an upgrade. Make sure you both get the best night’s sleep possible by consulting the bed experts at Bensons for Beds. Be it through a trip to your local store or online, we are here to help you to choose the right mattress and bed for you and your cat. We have can provide in-depth guidance on sizing, comfort ratings and much more. We’ve also got plenty of advice for getting a great night’s sleep at any time of year in ourSleep Hub. And, if you’d like to learn a little bit more about the sleepiest animals, check out our10 Animals that Probably Sleep More than You blog post.

To talk beds or to place an order from the comfort of your home just give us a call on 0808 144 6160.


authors profile
Rachel Marshall
Brand Manager
Rachel has worked at Bensons for Beds for 4 years and has almost 20 year’s experience in marketing. In her role at Bensons, Rachel looks after all things brand including PR, brand communications, brand identity, brand partnerships and new product launches.
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