After bringing home a new pet hamster, many new owners quickly realize that having the hamster in any room used for sleeping can be a mistake. Hamsters are known to sleep during the day and be active at night. This may be great for those that sleep during the day, but for those on a regular schedule, the hamster's activities can cause sleepless nights for the owner. However, a hamsters sleep cycle can be changed.
The reason why the hamster's sleep cycle involves sleeping during the day comes from the hamster's natural environment in the wild. In the wild hamsters are forced to be nocturnal because of predators. This natural behavior remains even with domesticated hamsters.
Waking your Hamster
The first step to changing your hamster's sleep cycle is to gradually increase the amount of time you wake them up during the day. Keeping your hamster up all day can be unhealthy (just like someone keeping you awake all night). It is important to change your hamster's schedule over the course of a couple weeks, not all in one day. Each day increase the amount of time your hamster is awake by 15 minutes every couple hours. Do this until your hamster is kept awake for most of the day. Slowly their sleep cycle will begin to naturally change to the nights to make up for their lost sleep during the day.
When waking up your hamster it is important not to pick them up directly. Tapping lightly on the glass, or gently moving their habitat will help to stir them from their sleep naturally. Grabbing them directly while they are sleeping can cause them to naturally go into a defensive mode and bite you.
It is important to give your hamster personal contact when you wake them up during the day. Gently pet them, talk to them, and give them space outside of the cage to run around. Hamsters can have a hard time getting used to being handled by humans unless they have frequent contact with you handling them. However, over-handling can also cause them to get annoyed, so it's important to balance their alone time with social time. Playing with your hamster will also help the hamster expel more energy and be additionally tired when night comes around. If you continue to slowly increase the amount of time you are handling and playing with the hamster during the day, they will slowly change their body's sleep cycle over to night instead of day.