How Do Donkeys Sleep: Do Donkeys Sleep Standing Up?

How do donkeys sleep? Like horses, donkeys usually sleep standing up. When they sleep standing, they experience a light sleep that allows them to become fully alert quickly and run away if necessary.

When they are very tired, very relaxed and/or feel very secure they will lie down to sleep. Sleeping lying down, donkeys are able to enjoy rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Although, donkeys don’t need several hours of REM sleep (as do humans) they do need about half an hour of this deep sleep every twenty-four hours.

Why Is REM Sleep Important?

do donkeys sleep standing up

REM sleep is the part of the sleep cycle that allows dreaming and encourages full rejuvenation. If you’ve ever seen your dog run its sleep and possibly even bark or howl, you’ve seen your dog experience REM sleep.

When donkeys experience REM sleep they may kick or twitch slightly, but they don’t typically run and bray in their sleep.

The need for REM sleep is just one of the many reasons why you should strive to establish a safe, secure environment for your donkey. Without enough rest, your donkey will be sleep deprived. You’ll notice (just as in humans) sluggishness, crankiness, and if it goes on too long, a decline in overall health.

How To Create A Safe Space For Your Donkey

For your donkey to feel safe to lie down and enjoy REM sleep, you must provide secure sleeping quarters that guard against inclement weather and predators. Of course, the quarters should be large enough that your donkey can lie down and stretch out comfortably.

One of the best choices in donkey shelter is a fully enclosed pole barn. This type of structure is easy to build, typically provides good ventilation and is easy to care for and clean.

A four sided barn provides complete protection from the elements. If you live in a place with a very mild climate, a three sided barn or shed may be adequate. If you choose this option, be sure to face the open side away from the prevailing winds.

Provide Safe, Comfortable Flooring

The floor of the barn should be slip resistant and cushioned. If it’s a dirt floor, be sure to add a layer of straw or shavings. If your barn has a concrete floor or hardwood floor, cover the floor with thick rubber mats. Cover this with straw or shavings for absorbency.

For donkeys who spent nights outside, you must be sure that your fences are secure. Additionally, you’ll need to have at least two donkeys so that they can spell each other with one watching and one sleeping.

Your donkeys’ outdoor space should be enclosed by sturdy fencing to keep your donkeys in and keeps predators out. Wood or pipe fencing are both good choices. Woven wire fencing on strong, sturdy posts is another possibility.

In both fence and barn construction, be sure to use wood that has not been treated with insecticides that could be harmful to donkeys if they chew. Inspect your barn and fences regularly for signs of chewing and other damage that could cause them to be unsafe.

A Relaxed Donkey Is A Happy Donkey

When donkeys have a very safe, secure pasture you may see them lying down in the sun to sleep during the day. This is especially typical in the springtime on sunny days when the ground begins to warm up and warm steam rises from the ground.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks about your donkey, then read this article on composting donkey manure.

After 6am Sleeping Donkeys

2 thoughts on “How Do Donkeys Sleep: Do Donkeys Sleep Standing Up?”

  1. I tried wood shavings on the floor but one ate a bunch of it and got sick. how do you put straw and not have them eat it?

    • You probably can’t put straw and not have them eat it. Just be sure to use a very good quality of straw, free of mold, dirt and debris. Also, provide an ample amount of good quality, free feed hay so that they’ll be more likely to choose that over the straw. Adding soaked beet pulp to the diet for added roughage might also help prevent them from going after non-nutritive, low quality roughage such as straw and wood shavings. Also, be sure your donkeys have ample turn-out time and access to good grazing to avoid boredom and a longing for roughage.


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