Do Orcs and Uruks sleep or do they just remain awake 24/7 like Sauron does?

  • In Shadow Of Mordor, Orcs sleep. That's when you kill them. Also, Sauron is an angel who lost his body, other rules apply to him. Mainly that you need a body in order to get tired.
    – Arne
    Nov 19, 2015 at 14:53
  • 4
    Shadow Of Mordor isn't canon and unbodied Ainur were powerless
    – Mithoron
    Nov 19, 2015 at 18:20
  • And do they dream?
    – Lexible
    Oct 6, 2021 at 3:50

2 Answers 2


Yes: they need some sleep, but they're trained to be hardy.

Orcs are mortal beings after all, and it seems reasonable to assume that they do need sleep just like Men, hobbits, etc. This is confirmed by the following quote (which I found in this excellent answer to another question) from text 10, Morgoth's Ring, of History of Middle-Earth (emphasis mine):

They needed food and drink, and rest, though many were by training as tough as Dwarves in enduring hardship. [...] They died and were not immortal, even according to the manner of the Quendi.

Exemplifying the part about enduring hardship, consider the Orcs who kidnapped Merry and Pippin, who apparently ran without ceasing for 3 days solid. They are never described as stopping to sleep in the chapter (The Two Towers chapter 3, The Uruk-Hai) devoted to them and their prisoners. Their toughness and tirelessness is also touched upon by the Three Hunters in the preceding chapters:

"But [the Orcs] go with a great speed for all that," said Aragorn, "and they do not tire. And later we may have to search for our path in hard bare lands."
-- The Two Towers, chapter 1: The Departure of Boromir


"Unless our enemies rest also, they will leave us far behind, if we stay to sleep," said Legolas.
"Surely even Orcs must pause on the march?" said Gimli.
"Seldom will Orcs journey in the open under the sun, yet these have done so," said Legolas. "Certainly they will not rest by night."
-- The Two Towers, chapter 2: The Riders of Rohan

  • That doesn't necessarily mean sleep. Remember that the elves enter a waking dream in this setting, too, and the orcs are said to be made from elves.
    – user40790
    Nov 19, 2015 at 17:00
  • @Axelrod "the orcs are said to be made from elves" - but as I commented on the other answer, it's known they're not immortal (unlike elves), so why should they sleep in the same way as elves?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 19, 2015 at 17:02
  • 1
    I interpret that last quote as Legolas finding it unusual that they don't sleep or at least "rest". So, it seems normal and (somewhat) common knowledge (albeit not to Gimli) that Orcs do at least rest during the day, if not sleep. Nov 19, 2015 at 17:47
  • @Axelrod Sure, but I really think we can discount Orcs meditating like elves as a plausible scenario.
    – Jonathon
    Nov 22, 2015 at 3:43

Unlikely. Since elves don't sleep (or at least not like humans do), it would stand to reason that orcs don't either.

There are suggestions in the Silmarillion that the orc species originated with elves that were kidnapped by the forces of Morgoth and then experimented on. Tolkien had to introduce an explanation like this because only Eru Illuvatar can create intelligent life of any kind, and he didn't directly create orcs.

  • 1
    Orcs aren't that much like Elves in their basic biology: see this question and this one.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 19, 2015 at 15:32
  • 1
    @randal'thor Elven longevity isn't due to their biology. It's by the will of Iluvatar.
    – user40790
    Nov 23, 2015 at 16:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.