How to Change a Hamster's Sleep Cycle

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If you're going to change a hamster's sleep pattern, pay attention to how changes in his environment affect him. You can change your hamster's sleep schedule slowly by encouraging him to be awake when you are. Changing his routine too quickly can make him grumpy and possibly aggressive, so make gradual changes. Avoid loud noises and startling actions. Strengthen your bond with him and make sure he's stimulated and fulfilled and that all of his needs are met. A happy hamster is a more cooperative hamster.

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Make gradual changes.

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Hamster sleep pattern

You may quickly notice how much your hamster's sleep cycle differs from most people's. Hamsters are crepuscular, meaning they're mainly active during twilight hours. To avoid daytime and nighttime predators, they come out of their burrow just before sunset, return home just after sunrise, and sleep through most of the day. A hamster sleep schedule usually includes being asleep for 12 to 14 hours a day in total. That time is interrupted by waking up occasionally throughout the day.

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Don't make sudden changes

If you decide to change your hamster's sleep schedule too quickly, there may be consequences. After all, how would you feel if someone suddenly started keeping you awake all night and expected you to sleep during the day? You'd probably feel tired and grumpy. It's the same for your hamster, but he might be more aggressive.

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Your hamster likely wouldn't adjust to a new sleep pattern right away. If you keep him awake, he may show signs of sleep deprivation. Since hamsters have so many predators, they are prone to stress and can be reactive. An overtired hamster is more likely to bite you when you reach your hand into the cage. Even if he doesn't bite you, he won't be as open to socializing with you if he's not rested.

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How to wake your hamster

Try not to wake your hamster, but if you need to wake her to feed him or clean her cage, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Hamsters have incredible hearing and poor eyesight, and they startle easily. They can get scared by noises that humans can't even hear. If you're going to wake your hamster, approach the cage slowly. Try talking to her in a soft, comforting voice. If she's in a deep sleep, run your fingers gently over the bars of the cage. She may feel the vibration enough to open her eyes without getting scared.

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Put some fresh food in her bowl and gently shake it so she can hear it. Her positive association with food may help her wake up. Hamsters respond to temperature too. Colder temperatures can send them into hibernation, which is dangerous, but warmer temperatures might help wake them up. Just be careful not to use anything too warm and don't leave your hamster unsupervised with anything that creates heat.

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Encourage him to be awake

If you want your hamster's sleep schedule to change, forcing him isn't your only option. If you take advantage of the times he's already awake and use that time to strengthen your bond with him, he may want to spend more time with you and change his hamster sleep pattern on his own.

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To bond with your hamster, show him that he can trust you. Play with him quietly in the evening when his activity is highest. Give him lots of positive attention and let him sleep when he wants to sleep. Put wooden toys in his cage so he can play when you're not around. If he's a happy hamster, he'll be more receptive to socializing with you. Over time, your hamster may learn to trust you, and as long as he feels safe, you might notice your buddy waking up at times he knows you'll be awake.

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