Many bearded dragon owners wonder if there is a requirement for nighttime lighting for bearded dragons. Some assume that bearded dragons still need heat from their basking lamp, which emits light. Some just want to be able to check in on their beardie at night.
This leads many owners to wonder what to do about the lighting in their beardie’s tanks when it’s dark outside. Should the lights stay on or off? And what about the lights in the room that your beardie’s home is located in? Do those need to be turned off or left on?
Do Bearded Dragons Need Light At Night?
All of the lights both inside and outside a bearded dragon’s tank should be turned off for 12 hours each night to ensure proper sleep. Use a timer to automate this 12 hours on and 12 hours off process. If extra heat is needed, a ceramic heat emitter can be used as it won’t emit any light.
We want to be very clear about this point. It’s not only that they don’t “need” light at night. Instead, it’s very important to their health that they have a completely dark environment for twelve hours every night. (Source)
Imagine how quickly your health would degrade if you were forced to sleep in a brightly lit room each night. Sure, you might get some sleep, but it wouldn’t be quality sleep. And a lack of quality sleep has a ton of negative effects. This is true for both humans and bearded dragons!
Lighting in a Bearded Dragon’s Natural Habitat
To understand why bearded dragons don’t need light at night, you need to understand their natural habitat. Bearded Dragons come from the deserts of Australia. In the daytime, it is extremely bright and gets very hot. In the evening, it gets very dark and the only light comes from the moon.
The key to raising a happy and healthy bearded dragon is simulating their natural environment as closely as possible. The better we can do this, the healthier our beardies will be!
In the daytime, we use basking lights to simulate the heat of the sun and UVB lights to simulate its brightness, color, and health-giving effects.
At night, simulate the pitch black night of the Australian desert by turning all lights off. They need proper darkness to sleep. White lights, especially, should not be used. White lights are typically around 5,000 Kelvin, the same wavelength as the sun. If your beardie thinks the sun is out, it will not sleep when it should.
Another characteristic of the Australian desert is that it gets cool at night. While your beardie will do just fine in temps down to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, you don’t want the temp dropping below that. Your beardie is at a much higher risk of respiratory infections at temps below 65.
If you need to add heat in the evening because the temps in your home drop below 65, use a ceramic heat emitter like this one. It will add the needed additional heat, but don’t emit any light. (Source)
Do not use under-tank heating pads!!! These can cause serious burns on your bearded dragon and should never be used in any capacity in a bearded dragon’s tank!!!
Why Do Bearded Dragons Need Effective Sleep?
Bearded Dragons are much more complex than we think they are. They have many needs similar to ours. They need light, heat, and effective sleep. Allowing them to sleep in complete darkness at night will do wonders for their health.
They have a natural circadian rhythm in their bodies that tells them when it is time to go to sleep and wake up. If their light is on at night, this will disrupt your bearded dragon’s circadian rhythm, which will eventually disrupt the health of your pet, as their bodies won’t be able to function as normal.
Certain hormones are released at night when they sleep, so keeping the light off allows this to happen naturally and keeps your bearded dragon in top shape. If these hormones aren’t released at night, their wellness and functionality will be difficult to keep under control.
Allowing your pet bearded dragon to sleep in complete darkness not only helps with their sleep but also with their overall health. (Source)
As we noted before, how would you like to go to sleep with the lights on? You would often wake up irritated after you sleep in a well-lit room. This is the same for bearded dragons. They won’t necessarily realize that it is nighttime, and even if they do fall asleep, the sleep that they do get won’t be very beneficial if they have a light on their face all night. If we had to sleep with the lights on every night, we wouldn’t be very happy people. So, in order to keep your bearded dragon happy, turn off all lights at night. (Source)
It is normal for owners to worry about their bearded dragon’s temperature at night. Yes, they need extra heat than normal because they are cold-blooded, but heat lamps often emit light and make it hard for them to sleep. Luckily, they usually do not need extra heat at night as long as the temperature doesn’t drop too low.
At night, bearded dragons need to be in a temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, so unless your house is lower than 65 degrees when you sleep, your bearded dragon should be fine without a heating lamp. It is better for them to have no light than some heat, and since heating lamps are often quite bright, it’s best to turn it off and keep it dark for them at night. (Source)
Even if your house does get close to or right at 65 degrees, your bearded dragon will be okay because their bodies cool down very slowly. Their bodies will hold enough heat to keep them warm during the night. They may be domestic pets now, but they still have their natural survival instincts engraved in them. (Source)
Cold climates are not the best environments for bearded dragons. However, it is still possible to create a sustainable habitat for your bearded dragon with heat lamps and appropriate light. Simply turn off the bright lamps at night and turn them back on when you wake up. (Source)
If you decide you need to provide a heating lamp for them, there are heating lamp options that don’t produce light. Ceramic heat emitters are a great option.
Nighttime Lighting For Bearded Dragons – The Red Night Light
Another option if you need light at night would be a red light. As long as the red light isn’t too close to them or in their way, it shouldn’t disturb your bearded dragon. However, make sure you provide a place for them to hide if the light is bothering them, like a shell or small cave. (Source)
We see a lot of people argue about this one. Your beardie “shouldn’t” be able to see the red light at night. That said, a lot of bearded dragons will hide from that red light. That tells us that they can, indeed, see that light. It also tells us that it bothers them.
When we ask, most owners want to use a red bulb so that they can see their pet bearded dragon at night. They like to use it to check on them and we can relate to that.
If that’s the case, then we would advise simply turning on a room light in an adjoining room or hallway when you want to take a peak. It won’t be that bright and it will only be on for the few short seconds it takes you to check on your beardie. This is a much better option than leaving a light on in their tank all night, even a red one!
It’s always important to remember that we are setting up our bearded dragon’s home in a way that is best for them, not for us. This means two very important things when it comes to nighttime lighting.
First, get their lights on a timer and set it for twelve hours on and twelve hours off.
Second, make sure you place their tank in a room that can be darkened each night. We know you might want them in the family room with the rest of the fam, but if that room has lights/TV on after your beardie’s bedtime, you should move the tank to a different, darker room.