Why Do Deer Sleep in My Yard? [Backyard Deer Behavior]

Have you ever noticed deer in your yard? There are a few possible reasons why they might be there. Today we’re answering the question, “Why do deer sleep in my yard?” and helping you to decide whether this is a reason to be concerned or excited.

3 Deer sleeping in a yard. Text: Why do deer want to sleep in my yard?

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Sleeping Habits of Wild Deer

Maybe you’ve seen them sleeping, or perhaps you’ve noticed the signs after they’ve moved on.

If you’ve got deer bedding down on your property you might wonder why they’ve chosen that particular spot.

There are a few reasons why deer might be sleeping in your yard, which we will cover below.

If you’re okay with deer sleeping in your yard, then enjoy it! It’s a sign that they feel safe and comfortable on your property.

You can even feed your backyard deer to keep them around and attract them to your yard.

However, if you’d prefer they sleep elsewhere there are steps you can take to keep deer out of your yard too.

But before you decide whether they can stay, or need to go it’s important to know why the deer are choosing your yard to sleep in and some basics about deer sleeping habits.

Small deer with head tucked in near hind leg, sleeping.

Where Do Deer Sleep?

Deer sleep in a variety of places.

They’ll bed down under the cover of trees, shrubs or brush and sometimes use those same spots for daytime resting as well.

Deer might also den up in tall grass or other vegetation.

They have been known to rest under trees, brush piles, or even around houses to protect themselves from wind or severe weather.

Many experts agree that deer are creatures of habit and will return to the same places over and over again. So if a deer has decided that your backyard is a safe place to rest or eat, you will probably see them frequently.

Deer sleeping in backyard near hedge.

Do Deer Sleep Standing Up?

Deer can and do sleep standing up.

In fact, they might even move around a bit while they’re sleeping .

It’s not uncommon for a deer to walk to another spot, change their position or even lie down and return to a more upright stance at some point during their sleep cycle.

As prey animals, deer sometimes sleep standing up because they are on high alert for predators that hunt them such as coyotes, bobcats, and foxes. 

Because many deer often spend a few minutes dozing followed by a brief alert period, it is common for them to sleep in a variety of positions.

An example of what it looks like where deer sleep. Tall trees and grass that is pressed down.
In this photo you can see where the tall grass has been pressed down a telltale sign that deer are sleeping or bedding down in the area.

Bedding Down vs. Sleeping

When we think of a deer being asleep, we often picture them curled up in a ball.

While this is one way they sleep, it’s not very common.

Deer will also bed down, which means they’ll lie down and rest but might still be alert to their surroundings. They may do this alone or with other deer, depending on the time of year.

Common bedding areas are near food sources, water and protective cover.

During mating season, also known as the rutting season, and in fall when they are raising fawns you may find them sleeping while lying down next to each other. They might also stand or sit up during this time too.

If you notice areas of tall grass that appear to be flattened, that is a sign that the deer are using that spot to bed down.

This is why you might see them lying in your yard during the day – they’re just hanging out, not actually sleeping the entire time.

A small buck resting in front of a house.

Do Deer Sleep at Night or During the Day?

If you’re wondering if deer are nocturnal, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a very common question.

While deer may be more active at night during certain times during the year, they are not nocturnal. Instead, deer are considered to be crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and disk.

Like most animals, deer have a natural circadian rhythm which means they adjust their sleeping habits based on season changes throughout the year.

This behavior allows them to be most active during daylight hours when food is more available and they can be more alert for predators at night.

In the winter months, deer will generally sleep for longer periods of time and shorter periods during daylight hours.

This allows them to conserve energy in colder weather when food is more scarce.

So, the general answer to “When do deer sleep?” is a little bit during the day and a little at night.

Do Deer Sleep or Just Rest?

As an animal with many natural predators, deer do not have the luxury of sleeping for long periods of time.

A typical deer sleep cycle consists of less than 10 minutes of actual sleep followed by alert attention. This means they are never spending a lot of time sleeping, nor do they enter deep sleep.

During this time a deer may be watching for predators but not actively running from them so that they can conserve energy.

Deer can sleep with their eyes open or closed and are able to hear everything going on around them.

In a group setting, deer will often sleep with one eye open while the others rest so they can stay aware of their surroundings at all times but still save energy by being in a resting state.

Sleeping deer are hard to observe because their sleep cycle makes it very difficult to determine if they are asleep.

But whether they are just resting or sleeping, it is still interesting to know why they are choosing to do so on your property.

Why Are Deer Sleeping in my Yard?

If you have a park-like yard that provides food, shelter, and safety from predators that’s the perfect place for deer to sleep.

Deer are beautiful and intelligent animals that are capable of seeking out the perfect resting spot and it’s quite possible that this may be on your property.

Here is what they are looking for:

Reason #1: Security 

The first reason why deer might be spending time in your backyard or garden area could be because they feel very safe there.

Deer are likely to bed down in a property that has tall vegetation, which provides them with cover from predators like coyotes, mountain lions or even dogs.

If your yard has a lot of trees, shrubs and other vegetation, it’s likely that the deer feel safe and protected there.

This is especially true of a mother doe that has a fawn.

The doe will keep her newborn close to the ground for its first few weeks of life and in areas where she feels protected from predators that could harm her young one.

You can encourage deer to stay in your yard by keeping this natural vegetation intact.

Reason #2: Comfort  

Another reason why deer might be sleeping in your yard is that they are very comfortable.

Depending on the time of year the weather in your area may be extreme.

While deer are able to live in almost any climate, they like to be comfortable too.

Where we live, it can get up to 120 degrees during the summer and during the hottest part of the day, deer can be seen laying down in shady lawns throughout our neighborhood.

Likewise, if your region is covered in snow during the winter, deer will seek out warmer areas to sleep during cold nights.

Doe laying down by a house in the grass.

Reason #3: Food Sources 

The next reason why deer might be sleeping in a certain area is that there are food sources nearby.

Deer thrive on eating grasses, shrubs and other plants but they also need to eat high protein foods like acorns which provide them with extra nutrients and energy.

If you’ve got ornamental plants or fruit trees that deer like to eat or a water source that’s a likely explanation for why they are choosing sleep in your yard until their next meal. I

And of course, if you are feeding them they will definitely stick around.

Are Deer Bad to Have in Your Backyard?

Generally speaking, having a deer in your backyard is not a bad thing.

In fact, there are many people will do whatever they can to attract deer to their backyards.

That being said, deer will absolutely eat anything from your yard or garden that they have access to.

They are also a common host of deer ticks that are known to carry Lyme disease.

Plus, wherever there are deer, there will also be a lot of deer poop.

For these reasons, if you have pets or children in your backyard, it’s best to try to deter the deer from sticking around.

A few common deer deterrent ideas include installing motion-activated sprinklers, keeping your dog in your backyard, or removing the sources of food and water they are seeking.

Final Thoughts

Deer are likely to sleep in areas that have tall vegetation, or dense foliage which provides them with cover from predators like coyotes, mountain lions, or even dogs.

Since many backyards provide a safe area with food, shelter and protection from predators, they make good places for deer to sleep.

While you may see deer sitting or laying down in your yard, they actually don’t get much sleep. Every couple of hours they only spend a few minutes dozing so they can stay alert to protect themselves from potential dangers.

If you enjoy watching wildlife, it’s fun to have deer in your backyard.

But, if you are concerned about them damaging your plants or leaving droppings all over, there are ways to deter them from staying around and encourage them to sleep elsewhere.