Did Greek Gods Sleep?

Many people who know about Greek mythology know that Greek gods were immortal and had immense power. But they still do fairly human things, like drinking, being jealous, or even getting hurt. Did they also sleep as humans do?

Greek gods didn’t necessarily need to sleep, as they rarely showed any signs of tiredness. However, many myths tell of gods sleeping, often because they were tricked. Their beds are often mentioned, too. Greek gods showed human traits, and some myths have them sleep to tell a story.

But the full story is much more interesting than that. The real question isn’t whether Greek gods slept or not, but why they’d do it.

Also see Why Are Greek Gods Bad? to learn more.

Was Zeus Ever Put To Sleep? See below (Image: Zeus and Ganymede)

Why Greek Gods Slept Even Though They Didn’t Have To

Greek gods weren’t bound to human limitations. They had supernatural powers, were immortal, and could shapeshift in an instant. It’s not surprising that Greek gods didn’t need to sleep. However, that doesn’t mean they didn’t sleep at all.

Greek mythology wasn’t just a bunch of stories; it reflected how Greeks felt and lived. Greek gods have distinct human traits and are often shown doing human things. Some myths may show gods sleeping just because it helps tell the story.

Myths make frequent references to Zeus and Hera’s marital bed, and there’s an entire scene in The Iliad that happens beside Hephaestus and Aphrodite’s bed. [1] Beds and sleep were a part of the world of Greek gods because it was a part of the world of the humans who told their stories.

Here’s an excellent example: At one point in The Iliad, Homer mentions how Zeus was vigilant while other gods slept. It’s likely a way of saying Zeus was constantly alert or plotting something.

But if you take the passage literally and assume that gods need to sleep every night, then you’ll run into contradictions with many other texts.

Also see Why Are Greek Gods Dead? to learn more.

Greek goddess Athena
Who was the Greek god of sleep? See below (Image: Athena)

Was Zeus Ever Put To Sleep?

Zeus was put to sleep at least twice. The first time, Hera asked Hypnos to put him to sleep so that she could send angry winds at Heracles. The second time, Hera convinced Hypnos to put him to sleep during the Trojan war so that Poseidon could help the Greeks behind Zeus’ back.

Putting gods or humans to sleep is a trick that often appears in Greek mythology. Gods frequently do it to sneak past someone or induce dreams into mortals so that they do what they wish.

Greek gods often sneaked around to remain unknown and test mortals, like when Athena disguised herself as an old woman to convince Arachne to plead for forgiveness to the goddess. [2]

But even gods had someone to fear. Not all gods were equally powerful. Zeus was the undisputed leader and was even more powerful than gods with fighting prowess like Athena, Ares, and Apollo.

So, when someone needed to get around him, putting him to sleep was the only safe option.

Zeus was put to sleep at least twice because of Hera’s schemings. Homer tells both stories in The Iliad.

Long before the Trojan War, Troy was sacked by Heracles. Hera was spiteful toward Heracles, who was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. As he was leaving Troy, Hera asked Hypnos to send Zeus to sleep. While Zeus was asleep, Hera sent relentless winds at Heracles’ ships. Hypnos barely escaped Zeus’ anger by hiding with her mother, Nyx.

During the Trojan War, Hera asked the same favor. Naturally, Hypnos didn’t feel like doing that again. Hera had taken the Aecheans’ side, while Zeus favored the Trojans, and she wanted to distract Zeus so that The Aecheans could receive help without him being there to stop it.

She eventually convinced Hypnos by offering him marriage with Pasithea, a grace he had loved for a long time. Then Hera went to meet Zeus, seducing him at the top of a mountain. As Zeus embraced Hera, Hypnos did the job and ran off to talk to Poseidon.

After hearing from Hypnos that Zeus was asleep, Poseidon eagerly started helping the Greeks. This small contribution from Hypnos turned the tide of the war in favor of the Achaeans, who would eventually be victorious.

This time, Zeus never found out Hypnos was involved in the scheme, so the god of sleep didn’t suffer any punishment.

Also see Why Are Greek Gods Popular? to learn more.

Temple of Athena
Who were Morpheus and Phobetor? See below (Image: Temple of Athena)

Who Was the Greek God of Sleep?

Hypnos was the god of sleep. He was the son of Nyx, the Night, and brother of Thanatos, god of peaceful death. Hypnos gave humans restful sleep and was sometimes asked to trick gods and mortals by putting them to sleep. [3]

Hypnos’ most famous apparition happens in The Iliad when Hera asks him to put Zeus to sleep during the Trojan War.

Hypnos is usually described as a gentle god that favors humans. With sleep, he drives worries away and renews their strength. However, the gods sometimes ask him to put entire armies to sleep so that they fall prey to an attack.

Hypnos is often depicted together with his brother Thanatos, god of peaceful death. There was a likeness between death and sleep for ancient Greeks, and it’s no coincidence that these gods are brothers.

Who Were Morpheus and Phobetor?

Morpheus and Phobetor were sons of Hypnos, the god of sleep. Morpheus was a god associated with dreams. He acted as a messenger from the gods and appeared in the dreams of mortals as a human. Phobetor also appeared in dreams, but he took the form of animals.

Hypnos had thousands of sons, and from these, he selected only three: Morpheus, Phantasos, and Ikelus, who was called Phobetor by humans. The trio became the Oneiroi.

The Oneiroi were spirits that came out of their cave every night to bring dreams to humans. Some of them were prophetic, and some of them were false. The Greeks gave importance to omens that came during sleep, but they had to be distinguished from the many meaningless dreams.

Morpheus was the leader of the Oneiros and the most famous of the three. He sent human shapes of all kinds to dreamers, sometimes carrying important messages.

In The Iliad, Zeus invokes a deity to send a false message to Agamenon, telling him to rally his troops and attack Troy. This deity likely is the same as Morpheus.

On the other hand, Phobetor isn’t as well known as Morpheus. In fact, there are few records of him. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid tells us that he acted as a messenger of dreams just like his brothers: Morpheus and Phantasus.

While Morpheus imitated humans and Phantasus took the form of inanimate objects, Phobetor appeared as animals in the dreams of mortals.


Sometimes Greek gods rested and slept because they wanted to or were tricked. However, there isn’t any indication that Greek gods needed to sleep.

Also see Why Were Greek Gods Blonde? to learn more.

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