Bearded dragons are a lot like us in many ways. One of the biggest ways is our sleeping habits: bearded dragons have the same sleeping patterns as we do in that they are diurnal (we sleep at night and are awake during the day). Sometimes we love our bearded dragons so much that we want to spend time with them even when we’re sleeping. This begs the question, can my bearded dragon sleep with me?
Technically yes, but it’s not a good idea. Due to safety and health concerns for both you and your lizard, please don’t sleep with your bearded dragon.
In this post we’ll discuss why sleeping with your bearded dragon isn’t the safest idea due to potentially getting crushed, improper heat, lighting and temperature, as well as other ways to bond with your bearded dragon besides doing the full twelve hour sleep together.
Sleeping with a bearded dragon – 6 things to consider
1. Safety Concerns
The biggest reason against why you should sleep with your bearded dragon in bed is due to safety concerns.
There’s a reason why newborn babies aren’t supposed to sleep in their parents beds with them and that is because you could potentially roll over in your sleep and crush or suffocate the baby without actually realizing it.
The same goes for bearded dragons. It is way too easy, especially if you are a heavy sleeper, to roll over in the middle of the night and cause harm to your bearded dragon. On top of that, bearded dragons have very fragile bones.
Unfortunately it doesn’t take much to break or crush one of your bearded dragons bones. Even if you don’t mean it, rolling over on even their foot or leg could cause great pain to your bearded dragon.
Some owners have found a way to circumvent this by buying a little pet carrier and placing the bearded dragon in the carrier to prevent accidentally crushing it at night.
While this is a great solution to the problem of accidentally harming it in your sleep, there are still a lot of other concerns to taking your bearded dragon out of its tank for the full twelve hour sleep cycle. Let’s discuss more below.
Making sure that bearded dragons get a constant source of external heat is very important for bearded dragons since they are cold-blooded. Although the amount of heat they need is less at night, bearded dragons do need a constant, steady temperature of 70-75 degrees.
If you take your bearded dragon out of its enclosure you are risking that they are going to get either too much heat or too little since your house probably isn’t as temperature controlled as your tank.
If you live in an area where the temperature drops during the winter, if your heater breaks, or even if you like it warmer than 70-75 degrees you are running the risk that your bearded dragon will be uncomfortable and will have difficulty sleeping.
Because bearded dragons are cold-blooded they must receive heat from the temperature (and not a blanket) since they cannot produce heat on their own. In fact, blankets actually have the opposite effect and insulate the cold in and the heat out. It is very important they get heat through a light and not front a blanket or a bed.
If you can guarantee that the temperature in your room stays at a constant 70-75 degrees, then it will most likely be fine. However, we do recommend against this as when bearded dragons are in their tank everything is temperature controlled. To be safe we recommend your bearded dragon stays in the tank at night where you have a guarantee the temperature is to their liking.
Bearded dragons originate from Australia. More specifically bearded dragons are originally from the desert. This means that in the wild when it gets dark out it gets pitch dark. When bearded dragons are in captivity it is extremely important that we mirror what they’re used to as closely as possible and keep the amount of light at night to an absolute minimum.
Additionally, bearded dragons have very sensitive eyes. Any light at all will end up disturbing their sleep since they can see and sense extraneous light.
Something as little as a call coming in on your cell phone and lighting up, or if your partner comes into your room and turns on the light, or even if there’s a light outside your window. Any light at all can disrupt a bearded dragons sleep cycle, much more than you or I.
Therefore, it is best to keep your bearded dragon in their tank for the night and drape a blanket over their enclosure to keep out any unnecessary light.
4. The Importance of Sleep Cycle
Sleep is crucial to bearded dragons as they are any animal. In fact, lack of sleep has been linked to brain damage. Sleep cycles are tremendously important.
Disruptions ruin the sleep cycle. Important bodily functions happen during the sleep cycle such as the release of hormones. When hormones are not released as they should be, or not at all, this causes a lot of stress and imbalance which can affect your bearded dragon in a multitude of ways.
Many things can disrupt a sleep cycle. Improper lighting, improper temperature, or even something as simple as movement or noise. Bearded dragons have excellent hearing (even if you can’t see ears) and so if you get up and move around, or talk on the phone, or to your partner, this can wake your bearded dragon and interrupt their important sleep cycle.
While sleeping with your bearded dragon can present numerous health and safety concerns for your bearded dragon, it can also present health concerns for you as well.
As many of us know, reptiles come with a whole host of potential diseases to spread to us. The most popular disease that can spread from them to us is the dreaded salmonella, which is a bacterial infection that affects the gastrointestinal region.
Bearded dragons are no exception to this as they do often carry salmonella. This is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Unfortunately, it can be transmitted rather easily.
Bearded dragons often carry salmonella in their gastrointestinal tracts at a low level, which means it’s contracted from their poop that then gets on their skin that we then touch. And since lizards usually don’t display any signs of having the salmonella bacteria in their intestines meaning that it is very hard to tell if your bearded dragon is carrying it or not.
This means that if your bearded dragon sleeps in your sheets all night and poops you may not notice and could be coming in contact with salmonella.
If you are confident that you will not get any bearded dragon waste on you while you sleep (or roll into it) and you still are set on sleeping with your bearded dragon in bed then we do advise you change your sheets daily to help cut down the risk of contracting salmonella or other diseases.
6. Other Ways To Bond
A lot of bearded dragon owners simply allow their bearded dragon to sleep on their chest when they watch TV or outside or sometimes owners will take a quick nap on the couch together.
Cuddling for a few hours is a much safer alternative. For starters, you’re not risking rolling over onto them because you are sleeping on a couch. For another you don’t have to worry about the temperature or lighting because the nap is only for a short period of time – not a full sleep cycle.
Here are some more ways to bond with your bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons are cuddly, sweet little creatures. They love being held and they love sleeping on us. Because of this, many bearded dragon owners are tempted to sleep with their bearded dragons throughout the night. Although this temptation may be strong, we strongly discourage pet owners from doing this as it is not healthy for your lizard.
There is a great risk of disturbing their sleep cycles due to improper lighting and improper heat, which can then cause physical problems if the sleep cycle is interrupted too often. Additionally, there is the added worry of potentially crushing your pet during the night.
For these reasons we urge pet owners to get all of their cuddles in during the daytime when it is safe and fun for both you and your pet.