Let’s address an important question before we start. Is it even possible to change a hamster’s sleep cycle? Given that they’re nocturnal animals doing so can be a daunting task.
However, it is possible to change their sleep cycle by gradually changing their environment. What are those changes, and how can you go about the process? Keep reading to find out.
What Is a Hamster’s Natural Sleep Cycle Like?
Many people in the United States prefer keeping a hamster as a pet despite their odd schedules.
As soon as you get a pet hamster, you will also begin noticing a crucial aspect of their routine. In short, they’ll sleep all day and play all night.
Why is it that way? You may wonder. Well, for one, hamsters are accustomed to looking out for predators. This is mainly the reason behind their odd sleep timings.
That said, breaking them out of this habit isn’t easy. After all, it has been passed on from generation to generation.
Can Anyone Make Changes to Their Routine?
Not everyone can succeed in making changes to a hamster’s routine. The sooner you learn it, the better. Hamsters are no different than humans when it comes to having emotional needs and attachment patterns.
It’s crucial to formulate a healthy relationship with them before you can go on to make any changes. Remember, a hamster will only respond well to your attempts if it has a positive relationship with you.
Hamsters are super sensitive to changes around them. If you make those changes abruptly, you may achieve the opposite of what you initially intended.
Allow them to settle down and feel safe first. Remove any possible sources of disturbance from their environment and be very patient.
Once your hamster has accepted that there are no predators, it will be happier to be around you. The more they feel the need to spend time with you, the more responsive they will be to your changes to their environment.
Should You Wake Them Up During the Day?
You should never try to wake hamsters up abruptly. If you must do it, do it the right way. They’re sensitive to sights and sounds around them.
This means they will be startled even if you breathe loudly around them. There’s nothing more harmful to their health than sudden scares that can even result in a heart attack.
Since they sleep during the day, breaking the habit will require a lot of practice and patience. Start by approaching their cage slowly.
Try to caress the cage bars gently to allow your hamster to feel a sense of vibration that isn’t too startling. You can also entice hamsters with treats.
Since they’re also quite sensitive to smells, try placing a bowl with some food. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to wake it up without making sudden changes.
On the other hand, raising the temperature slightly can get them out of slumber. However, do not make any uncalled-for changes to the temperature. To keep any pet healthy, you should always try to maintain a good balance of warmth and coolness in a room.
Adjust the Lighting Gradually
Lighting plays a crucial role in their sleeping patterns. They’re much more comfortable around low lighting than in bright lighting.
In fact, too much brightness can startle them and cause them to become irritated. A huge part of making your hamster change its routine relies on the lighting around them.
Start by making them accustomed to shallow lights. Then, increase the brightness slightly as it will encourage them to stay awake.
A hamster’s daily routine consists of sleeping when the sun is out. This means they associate bright lights with danger and the fear of predators.
They prefer coming out of hiding at dusk since the light is much dimmer. Hence, you can start by ensuring that the lights around them are dim during the day.
However, make sure to be very patient. You cannot change their minds overnight.
Once they see dim lights during the day and bright lights during the night, they might slowly begin accepting the changes.
Is There An Alternative to Changing their Sleep Schedule?
Most owners consider changing their pet’s sleeping schedule because they require peace at night. However, you do not necessarily have to turn a nocturnal animal’s schedule upside down to accommodate yourself.
Change the Cage Location
Instead of encouraging them to sleep at night, consider changing the cage location. Since you already know this furry pal will be up at night, placing its cage inside your bedroom isn’t wise. Instead, put it in a quiet, slightly far, dimly lit room.
This way, its active nightlife won’t keep you up. Accommodate it, so your pet hamster’s schedule isn’t disturbed and yours is managed effectively.
Buy the Right Wheel
Furthermore, you can also make some changes to its exercise wheel. Even though the sound is loud enough to disturb you, leaving your hamster without a wheel isn’t wise.
Doing so can have a noticeable impact on its mood. Your furry buddy needs adequate movement throughout the day to quickly release energy and kill time.
Hence, you can always choose to buy something other than metal wheels. This way, the squeaky turns won’t wake you up, and your hamster will remain happy and healthy.
Play At the Right Time
Playing with your furry baby right before you go to bed is always a good idea. Since they’re usually active at night, playing at that hour won’t ruin their cycle. At the same time, it will also healthily exhaust them.
So, they’ll be a lot less active after you doze off. The ideal time to play with your hamster is between late evening and night.
It’s important to respect your nocturnal pet’s sleeping schedule. It is a much more straightforward approach to co-exist with them than attempting to change their entire cycle.
Try to Accommodate their Schedule Instead of Changing It
Unless you’re willing to witness their unfriendly behavior and deteriorating health, try not to mess around with hamsters’ sleeping hours. A frequently disturbed hamster will often attempt to bite you and get very cranky.
Every animal on the planet has unique traits. Hamsters have also learned to follow a particular way of life. For years, it has remained the same.
Beauty sleep is as vital for a hamster as it is for you. At the same time, there are also some steps you can take to accommodate their schedule effectively, such as:
- Scheduling play hours, meals, and cleaning in the late evening
- Placing their cage in a dimly lit, quiet corner where they can sleep well during the day and do their running and digging at night
- Waking them up at a consistent hour every day
- Adding fresh and clean bedding to their cage so they can build nests and act on other natural instincts openly
Keeping Your Hamster Up During the Day
Over time you might notice that your hamster is following the same schedule as you. How did that happen? You may wonder.
Well, environmental factors play a considerable role here. Since your hamster is no longer in wild conditions, it will eventually begin to adapt to the new environment.
Observing maximum activity during the day and minimal activity during the night will cause it to make very natural changes in its schedule. The deal is to not force any change on them.
The more you mess with their sleep cycle, the more agitated they will get. In turn, they might even undergo a subtle health deterioration that appears much later on the surface.
In short, do not forcefully try to keep your hamster up during the day. Instead, accept their natural schedule and incorporate minor and subtle changes now and then. Eventually, you will notice your hamster naturally adapting to the new lifestyle.
If you’re still wondering how to change the hamster sleep cycle, here’s the gist of the entire argument. While there are ways to make them accustomed to your schedule, it is usually recommended that you avoid going down that path.
Most hamsters naturally adapt to the environment without being forced to do so. From waking them up at a consistent hour every day to creating a sleepy environment at night, you can incorporate a few changes in their routine.
However, make sure to be very subtle about them. Hamsters are sensitive to sudden and abrupt changes in their environment. They don’t always react to them positively. In the worst-case scenario, they may even get sick.
Every hamster requires special care and attention to survive as a pet. From diet and exercise to consistent hours of sleep and waking up, there are several ways to ensure that they remain healthy for the longest time. Allow them the space to be themselves and witness them growing and thriving effectively.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more