Do Roaches Sleep? Why Do Roaches Come Out At Night? Nocturnal Facts

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | January 18, 2024

Man looking at a cockroach in bed wonders, do roaches sleep, are roaches nocturnal, why do roaches come out at night, and do roaches sleep on their back, as well as other roach sleeping facts.

Cockroaches spend most of their time looking for food, avoiding predators, and searching for a mate, so many people wonder, when do roaches sleep?

For 280 million years, cockroaches have roamed the earth. Today, there are several thousand species around the planet. While these creatures are fascinating, they’re known to spark disgust in humans and many associate them with dirty environments, disease, and allergens.1

Cockroaches can adjust to an extensive amount of conditions, and they also have excellent survival skills. All they really need is food and water to get by, but they can also go without it for up to a month.

However, many people are unfamiliar with the sleep patterns of roaches and why this insect evolved to only come out at night. Many experts agree that roaches do sleep; however, their sleep patterns and routines are a lot different than humans and even other insects.2

This guide explains the answer to the questions, do roaches sleep and why do roaches come out at night?

How Do Roaches Sleep?

Roaches follow a circadian rhythm much like all living things.3 A circadian rhythm is a set of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur within a single 24-hour period.

Circadian rhythms prepare creatures for changes in the environment and optimize energy use, so they’re highly important for survival. So do roaches sleep or remain consistently active?

Graphics about the reasons why roaches come out at night such as safety from predators, cooler temperature, easier to find mate, and food is accessible.

Almost all insects have a “sleep” cycle, or a period of immobility, as part of their circadian rhythm, and this includes roaches. Roaches have three components to their circadian rhythm: a period of movement from one place to another (locomotion), a period of limb or antennae movement without movement from one place to another (movement without locomotion), and a period where they don’t move at all (immobility).

While this period of no movement is not quite the same as human slumber, roaches are generally immobile during this time frame, so it is a lot like sleeping. So how do roaches sleep, given the constant threat of predators and their endless search for food?

A key part of their survival is their ability to rest during the day.

Are Cockroaches Nocturnal and What Time Do Roaches Go To Sleep?

So are roaches nocturnal? If so, what time do roaches go to sleep?

A close up photo of a roach sleeping while lying on its back on the concrete floor.

(Image: Picas Joe6)

Usually, around 4 or 5 am is when their period of immobility begins and it extends throughout the daylight hours. Because they “sleep” during the day, they are considered nocturnal insects.

Roaches stick to a fairly strict sleep schedule, which is controlled by their brains. As humans, our circadian rhythm is also controlled by our brains, but a portion of our brain is connected to our optic nerves, which causes light to serve as a trigger for different stages of our cycles.

Since they can also see light, how do roaches sleep during the day? They’re quick to discover dark, hidden spaces where they spend most of the daylight hours, so light does not play much of a role in triggering stages throughout their circadian rhythm.

Therefore, roaches are usually consistent and remain active and immobile during the same periods each day.

Do Roaches Sleep During the Day? Understanding Cockroach Nocturnal Behavior

Roaches begin their day in the early evening hours, so most people come into contact with them shortly before bed. Why do cockroaches come out at night and what causes them to emerge?

The answer is evolution. Understanding cockroach nocturnal behavior comes down to identifying the reasons why roaches thrive during the nighttime.4

Why Do Roaches Sleep During the Day?

  • Improved Ability To Detect Predators At Night: Cockroach predators include mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, so how do roaches sleep with a constant threat of danger? Most of their predators are diurnal, which means they’re awake during the day.
    Roaches prefer the evening hours because they’re quiet, which allows them to sense loud noises and quickly identify danger.
  • Cooler Temperatures In The Evening: Roaches prefer cooler (but comfortable) temperatures rather than intense heat and direct sunlight, so nighttime is preferable. However, deep cold or freezing temperatures cause them to go into a hibernation-like state of dormancy for a larger portion of the day.
  • Easier To Find A Mate: With fewer interruptions from predators and loud noises, it’s easier for roaches to find a mate in the nighttime hours.
  • Food Is More Accessible At Night: Roaches have an easier time hunting for food during the nighttime hours. Roaches eat plants, insects, and other animals; but they’re also open to any food lying around the house.

Navigating around during the night is no problem for roaches because they can see in the dark. Roaches have light-sensitive cells in their eyes, which span from the front to the back of their heads.

The length of their eyes allows them to capture more light and see in the dark. Roaches are also able to use their antennae to sense vibrations, detect motion, and pick up on scents.

While roaches prefer the dark, they aren’t afraid of the light. Roaches do occasionally emerge during the daytime hours, but it’s usually because of a disturbance or because their hiding place has become overcrowded due to infestation.

You may notice roaches tend to scatter when you flip on a light switch, but this is due to the sudden change in the environment which triggers their flight response and suggests a predator could be nearby.

There Is a Cockroach in My Room; Can’t Sleep!

Help! There is a cockroach in my room; can’t sleep!

It can be quite unnerving to discover a cockroach in your bedroom right before you go to sleep, but the good news is they don’t sting and it’s highly unlikely they will bite. Cockroaches want to avoid you as much as possible, so they won’t cause you any harm.

While they are capable of biting humans, it’s very rare – and they are much more likely to go out of their way to avoid you. Many humans will avoid cockroaches at all costs, which is one reason why many people are eager to learn about their sleeping habits.

Many also want to know how to get rid of roaches, how to prevent them in the first place, and when to call an exterminator for roaches.

How To Prevent Cockroach Infestation

So what causes cockroaches to emerge? Mostly the basics – food, water, and shelter.

In most cases, it’s food that attracts roaches to your home. Crumbs and open containers are the biggest culprits.

It’s also not uncommon to find roaches in Airbnbs or motels as a revolving cycle of guests often results in leftover food and debris. Roaches also like high levels of moisture.

Taking the time to prevent roaches by cleaning up the house, sealing any cracks or entry points, and running a dehumidifier is a lot cheaper than exterminator prices.5 If roaches have a difficult time finding food once they enter your home, chances are likely they’ll move on.

If you live in a townhouse or condo, then a nearby roach infestation could become your problem too, which leads many to wonder how to get rid of roaches coming from neighbors. While it might be difficult, keeping your entry points sealed is the best way to prevent roaches from finding their way into your home too.

Natural remedies can also be effective at keeping roaches away. So what do cockroaches hate?

Graphics that shows the natural remedies on how to keep cockroaches away at night which are bay leaves, lavender, citrus, and mint.

Lavender, mint, citrus, and bay leaves have all been found to be somewhat effective at keeping roaches away from certain areas of the home. So does bleach kill roaches?

It’s a common question. Technically yes, but it’s not the best option as a cockroach would have to drink bleach or drown in bleach for it to be effective, and bleach isn’t a safe option to use.

So if all else fails, how much does an exterminator cost for roaches? Depending on the size of the infestation, it could be anywhere from $100 to $500.

If you’re able to determine you have an infestation (10 – 25 or more roaches) on your hands, then an exterminator is likely the best option. Because roaches are immobile during the day, you might not immediately notice a roach infestation, but there are signs to look for.

It might also be possible to detect cockroaches by their odor. So what do roaches smell like?

Roach droppings and pheromones produce an oily, musty smell. Many people also wonder when to call an exterminator for roaches.

If you notice cockroaches inside cabinets or drawers, or you find cockroach eggs or droppings throughout your home, it’s likely time to call a professional. So do roaches sleep?

Yes, but not in the same way humans do. They have a period of immobility during the day which helps them to avoid predators.

Because this period occurs during the day, it can be difficult to discover a roach infestation.

The best way to prevent roaches inside the home since do roaches sleep is to keep your home clean and well-sealed and call an exterminator if you notice eggs, droppings, or other signs of a problem.

So, when wondering, do roaches sleep, the answer is yes, and this and other nocturnal facts can help you exterminate them from your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Do Roaches Sleep

How Long Do Cockroaches Sleep?

Roaches can sleep up to 18 hours per day, but the actual length of their rest period is heavily influenced by their food supply and temperature.

Why Do Roaches Come Out at Night?

Roaches come out at night in order to avoid predators. They also enjoy cooler temperatures and find it easier to hunt for food or find a mate

Do Roaches Sleep on Their Backs?

If you encounter roaches bottom-side up, you might wonder: why do cockroaches sleep on their backs? Roaches do not sleep on their backs, so it’s more likely the roach ingested insecticide or poison, which led to involuntary muscle spans and caused it to flip onto its back.

What Causes Cockroaches To Fall Asleep?

Cockroaches have a circadian rhythm also known as an “internal clock”, which triggers the automatic transition between different states. In the very early morning hours, cockroaches automatically begin to enter a state of immobility which lasts until the evening hours.

How Long Do Roaches Stay Awake?

Roaches have a four-hour locomotion period where they move from one location to another. This period typically begins in the early nighttime hours, and it’s followed by a 3 to 4-hour period of antenna and limb movement with no locomotion.

How Do Roaches Sleep When It’s Bright Outside?

While roaches do have the ability to see light, they typically sleep in dark areas (beneath rocks, behind appliances), so light does not play a role in their sleep cycles.

How Can I Sleep With a Cockroach in My Room?

While it might make you uncomfortable, a cockroach will not harm you while you sleep. However, cockroaches do spread disease and allergens, so if you notice a cockroach in your room, you’ll want to eliminate it as soon as you can and address any underlying issues (leftover food, moisture, etc.) to prevent an infestation.

How To Keep Cockroaches Away at Night?

Thoroughly cleaning your home, eliminating moisture, and sealing cracks are how to keep cockroaches away from your home at night.

Is It Normal To Find a Roach Sleeping in Your Home?

Cockroaches primarily live outdoors, but if given the opportunity, they will gladly make their way inside your home. It’s common to find roaches behind refrigerators and appliances, under floor drains, and behind boxes in the basement are common places where you might find them sleeping during the day.

How Do Roaches Get Inside the House?

There are numerous ways roaches can find their way into your home, so exactly where do roaches come from? Gaps in the doors or windows and cracks in the walls are the most common entry points, but they can also enter the home through plumbing or they can catch a ride in a cardboard box or luggage.


1Better Health Channel. (2023). Cockroaches. Better Health Channel. Retrieved December 20, 2023, from <>

2JGK. (2016, August 20). The Cockroach FAQ. The Cockroach FAQ. Retrieved December 20, 2023, from <>

3Homberg, U., Reischig, T., & Stengl, M. (2003, July). Neural organization of the circadian system of the cockroach Leucophaea maderae. Pub Med. Retrieved December 20, 2023, from <>

4Sutherland, A. M., Choe, D.-H., & Rust, M. K. (2019, December). Cockroaches. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Retrieved December 20, 2023, from <>

5Potter, M. F. (2018, June). Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments. University of Kentucky. Retrieved December 20, 2023, from <>

6Cockroach in Macro Photography Photo by Picas Joe. (2022, March 3) / Pexels License. Cropped and Resized. Pexels. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>