Do Cockroaches Sleep? Why Do They Come Out at Night?

Have you ever wondered about the circadian rhythm of a cockroach and why they are active when they are active? In this article, we’re going to look at whether cockroaches sleep and why they come out at night? It doesn’t seem impossible that these weird and creepy bugs might never sleep, so let’s explore how they behave.

Cockroaches do sleep, odd as that may sound. It isn’t quite like the sort of sleep that humans go into, but they do have a period of rest every twenty-four hour cycle, and most people consider this “sleep” as far as it goes for cockroaches. Cockroaches only come out at night because that is when they are active.

Are Cockroaches Nocturnal?

Yes, cockroaches are nocturnal. You will very rarely spot a cockroach in the daytime. These insects are only active after dark, and they spend the whole day resting. Indeed, cockroaches are often only awake and moving about for around four hours out of twenty-four.

For the rest of the time, they are resting and immobile, safe inside their homes. Usually, they are active in the very middle of the night and tend to return to their dens and stop moving around in the later parts of the night and before dawn. 

If you happen to walk into your kitchen for a midnight snack, you are most likely to catch these bugs doing the exact same thing.

However, if you have a serious cockroach infestation, you may see them at other times of the day, especially if they are extremely hungry because the colony has outgrown its food supply. Then, they may be pushed to forage even during the day, even though they do not usually operate in bright light.

Do cockroaches sleep?

What Do Cockroaches Do During The Night?

For the most part, cockroaches will take advantage of the dark hours to hunt for food. They will eat almost anything that they find, including paper, plastic, and any leftover foodstuff. They will also devour the droppings of other animals, bits of dead skin, and general debris that they find around your home.

Cockroaches also mate at night, although this will often be done in sheltered spots where they have less concern about being disturbed. They may fight with other cockroaches too. Overall, they spend the nighttime hours living and breeding so that they can perpetuate their species.

What Makes Cockroaches Adhere To This Schedule?

You might be wondering do cockroaches sleep? Why do they come out at night?

It’s hard to say what sets a creature’s circadian rhythm as it evolves over time, but it’s likely that cockroaches evolved to be active at night and sleep during the day for a number of reasons.

The first is probably self-preservation. Although cockroaches are tough insects, they have a lot of natural predators, and birds will happily pick them off, as will rodents and mammals. By coming out at night, cockroaches have a better chance of concealing themselves and staying alive.

This makes them very suited to living undetected in our homes, although it’s unlikely that they evolved for this purpose. Because we tend to turn off the lights and go to sleep at night, a cockroach can then freely roam through the house and eat whatever it pleases without being seen.

The second explanation is that it probably helps them to stay damp. Cockroaches aren’t in danger of drying out as some creatures like slugs are, but they prefer damp, dark spots and often feed on wet matter. This is much more available at night, so it’s likely that they can both stay cooler and damper and find more to eat.

Cockroaches have excellent night vision, so they don’t need to take advantage of the daylight hours in order to find food and potential mates or shelter; they can explore as they please.

Thirdly, the extra safety they enjoy at night makes it easier for them to mate without being disturbed. They can safely procreate without having to pay attention to their surroundings at every instant and are much less likely to get eaten as a result of being caught unawares. This is important for the survival of the species.

As a fourth explanation, it’s possible that they face less food competition from other insects during the dark hours. If they operated during the day, they would have to compete with all the other critters crawling around, but at night, they enjoy a little more dominance over the food supply.

Where Do Cockroaches Sleep?

Cockroaches usually sleep in any small and damp area they can find. They like to be hidden and they like to be in the dark, so they’ll usually go behind or under something. They may go under sinks, behind fridges or other appliances, inside boxes, or even on your walls. The more secure they feel the space is, the better.

A cockroach will not sleep out in the open, so if you ever see a cockroach on its back in the middle of the floor, it’s not asleep – it’s dead. Cockroaches don’t sleep on their backs even when they are in their hiding spots; they sleep the normal way up.

You may not be able to tell if a cockroach is asleep or not just by looking at it, but the chances are that if it’s in the open, it’s not asleep. Sometimes cockroaches can keep quite still in the hopes of not being spotted.

Will Cockroaches Attack Me While I Sleep?

This is a very reasonable fear that people suffer from, especially if they have discovered that they have a cockroach infestation. These insects are the stuff of nightmares for many people.

However, cockroaches will not usually attack you while you’re asleep. Although they are active at night and this might leave you feeling a bit unsettled, they don’t generally interact with humans, and will usually avoid you, even when you are asleep.

You may wonder if cockroaches ever try and eat people since they are known to be voracious feeders and tend to go for all sorts of different “prey.” You don’t need to worry too much, however, because it’s rare for cockroaches to bite people.

Occasionally, an extremely hungry cockroach might eat some dead skin, or nibble your eyelashes or fingernails. While that certainly sounds horrible and is something that you want to avoid at all costs, it is not a common occurrence.

It is only likely to happen if the cockroach infestation has got to the point where they cannot find enough other food, and the cockroaches are desperate. Usually, they will avoid humans and pets as much as they can.

Cockroaches do have a powerful enough bite to break the skin, and they hurt a little when they nip. A cockroach bite is usually around 4 mm and can raise a little red bump on your skin. It won’t usually itch or even swell very much, as they have no venom in their saliva.

While being bitten by cockroaches is not a pleasant thought, it’s not very likely to happen to you, especially if you deal with an infestation promptly and don’t let it get too serious. As soon as you see a cockroach in your home, you should investigate, as seeing one usually means there are a lot of them there.

Cockroach on its back

How Do Cockroaches Sleep?

Have you ever wondered if cockroaches nap the way we do? Do they sleep all night? Do they get grumpy if they don’t get enough sleep?

It’s very hard to assess a cockroach’s sleeping patterns and understand how they sleep. However, we are aware that they have three different stages of activity.

The first is active, the same as our wakeful period, in which they will scuttle around and hunt for food. The second is semi-active, in which there may be some limb and antennae movement, but it’s possible that the cockroach is asleep or at least in a resting state.

The third is still, and this is when the cockroach is in as close a position to sleep as we think they come. This period is usually observed during the day and in the late hours of the night after the cockroach has been very active.

That might leave you wondering whether cockroaches suffer from similar problems to humans when they are sleep deprived. Of course, we have no way of knowing whether cockroaches get “grumpy” when they haven’t slept, but we know sleep deprivation has a negative impact on them.

A sleep-deprived cockroach will not react nearly as quickly to potential threats, meaning the insect is then vulnerable to predators. It seems that without a period of rest they, like almost every creature, start to suffer and fail to function properly.

Do Cockroaches Dream?

That might lead you to wonder whether cockroaches dream. While it’s an interesting idea, it isn’t currently thought that cockroaches dream. The rest period seems to refresh them as it does us, but it is unlikely that it causes dreams.

It’s unclear if they even really “fall asleep” as we do, so they may remain aware of their surroundings while “asleep.”

Does Light Hurt Cockroaches?

Some people think that cockroaches generally operate at night because the light is actually painful to them, but this isn’t the case. They are not repelled by bright light and only withdraw from it because it means predators may be able to spot them more easily.

If you’ve seen cockroaches scattering when you turn a light on or fleeing from the beam of a flashlight, this is mostly because they are startled. This sudden appearance of light does not exist in the natural world, and it frightens them.

The light also makes them more vulnerable, especially as they will be out in the open foraging for food, rather than hiding from predators. Their eagerness to retreat is not a dislike for the light itself.

This explains why you may sometimes see cockroaches during the day. While they are much less likely to be active when it’s light out, it won’t do them any harm and they can survive just fine.

What Happens If I Leave My Lights On?

You might be wondering whether you can leave the lights on as an easy pest deterrent method since cockroaches don’t like light. Simply leaving one on in the kitchen might seem like a good solution until you can get pest controllers in.

This may work for a little while, but since cockroaches can operate in light, remember that their need for food will eventually outweigh their desire to avoid the light. They will get hungry and come out eventually, light or no light.

As mentioned, cockroaches can operate just fine during the day, and a source of constant light will probably only deter them for a short period of time. It will not put them off their search for food indefinitely.

Cockroaches are highly adaptable creatures and you can’t use light to deter them in the long term. They will simply get over their dislike for it and continue to raid your kitchen and other parts of your home as readily as they would in the dark.

It may not even take some cockroaches very long to adapt to the light, and once they have done so, you will find them constantly active in your home. While others may be slow, they too will adjust and you’ll find yourself having to deal with them constantly.

This is potentially worse than having a colony that operates only during the darkness, while you are sleeping, so this isn’t a great solution to an infestation.


So, to answer the question “do cockroaches sleep? Why do they come out at night?” they do sleep during the day, and this causes them to be active at night. The dark hours offer them protection from predators, damper conditions, and potentially more food, so it makes sense for them to stick to this schedule.

Cockroaches are nocturnal, but if forced to operate during the day, they can do so with very few negative effects. They are not afraid of light but simply sleep during the day.

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