Where do Mermaids Sleep?

Maybe you have heard the joke about where mermaids sleep. The answer is “in a waterbed”.

But where do mermaids in myths actually sleep and where would they sleep if they really existed?

In myths, mermaids mostly sleep in their underwater palaces at the bottom of the sea, sometimes in shell beds. If mermaids were real, they would most likely either sleep below the surface of the ocean or in a sea cave or on a secret beach where they would be safe from predators.

Let’s have a closer look at where mermaids would most likely sleep and why that is.

Where do mermaids sleep in myths?

Most myths and stories about mermaids, describe that they live on the ground of the ocean in a palace where they also sleep at night.

For example, that’s where the sea nymphs from Greek mythology, Lasiren from Haitian culture, the Nixies from Germanic culture and others are said to live and sleep.

Even Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid sleeps in the palace of the mermaid city Atlantica at the bottom of the sea.

(If you want to know which sea, you can read my article about where The Little Mermaid takes place here.)

In The Little Mermaid they also sleep in shell beds, as you can see in this video. But the exact kind of bed is not mentioned in many myths.

Where would mermaids really sleep in nature?

But if we want to know where real mermaids would sleep, we have to look at other similar sea animals and where they sleep to figure out which sleeping style would be most likely for a mermaid.

Sea animals actually sleep in different locations and in different ways:

Sea AnimalWhere they sleep
Smaller FishRest floating in the water or hiding in coral/vegetation
Shark Rest on the bottom of the sea
DolphinSleep close to the surface while resting or swimming slowly
SealSleep on land or floating upright in the water with their head sticking out

Fish all sleep in the ocean. And they actually do not sleep as humans do. Instead, they just rest on one spot in the water with their eyes open so they can see if a predator appears.

Some small fishes also hide in algae or coral where it is safer to sleep.

Sharks however mostly rest on the bottom of the ocean.

Sharks rest on the oceanfloor. (Photo by Vitaliy Zamedyanskiy on Unsplash)

They just lie down on the ground and take a break. They cannot physically close their eyes though, so their way of sleeping is a bit different than how we sleep.

The biggest question when asking where mermaids sleep is how they breathe while sleeping. And that’s where we see a difference in sleeping locations for fish (including sharks) and sea mammals like dolphins and seals.

Fish can breathe through their gills, so they spend 100% of their time underwater and thus also do not have any problems sleeping underwater.

But sea mammals do need to come to the surface to breathe in some air every once in a while. That is why dolphins sleep close to the surface of the water and seals often sleep on land.

As I explained in this post about whether mermaids are fish or mammals and in the section about how mermaids would look like if they were real, it is more likely that mermaids would be full mammals if they really existed.

That’s why I think mermaids might not have gills and would need to come to the surface to breathe air like the other sea mammals.

That means, they would likely also sleep in the same locations that dolphins and seals sleep in.

Mermaids could sleep in the ocean like dolphins

If mermaids slept below the surface as dolphins do, they might also only sleep with one side of the brain at a time as they do.

That is how dolphins stay alert and do not forget to come to the surface regularly.

Dolphins resting under the surface of the ocean. (Picture by Steven Leeuw on Pixabay)

As you can see on the picture, the dolphins just relax underwater and also close their eyes.

Dolphins do not even have the option to sleep on land because they cannot move well on land. So sleeping underwater is their only option really.

Mermaids are however able to also move around on land (even though not well).

So they would have the opportunity to get a more relaxed night of sleep whenever they are close to a safe spot of land.

Mermaids would likely sleep on land like seals

That is actually how seals do it: If they are out at sea, they do sleep floating in the water, but if they have the opportunity to sleep on land, they do prefer that.

They mostly sleep on beaches and just the sea shore in general.

Pinnipeds sleeping on a beach. (Photo by Bruno Vaccaro Vercellino on Unsplash)

In the Arctic you can even see seals sleep on floating ice sheets.

As we know, not many people have seen mermaids though. So they might be a bit more secretive compared to seals who just sleep on any land that is close.

Maybe mermaids would prefer sea caves like this one:

Mermaids might prefer to sleep in sea caves like this one in New Zealand. (Picture by anncapictures on Pixabay)

There are however not as many sea caves as there are beaches. So this might not the only place they sleep.

Mermaids would certainly know which beaches are safe and where there are no humans and other animals.

So, they might just sleep in their secret spots along the coast of some hidden islands, of which there are plenty in the ocean.

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