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Do vampires in the Elder Scrolls universe need to sleep? The closest information I could find was this dialog from the game Skyrim, spoken by Lord Harkon:

With the world in shadow, we would never tire, never weaken... more than a match for their pitiful armies.

The context is Lord Harkon speaking about the effects of blocking out the sun by firing Bloodcursed Arrows at it with Auriel's Bow. That statement makes it sound like vampires don't need to sleep—they simply need to avoid sunlight to keep from tiring. But perhaps the magic of using Bloodcursed Arrows with Auriel's Bow has an invigorating effect on vampires directly, in addition to blocking the sun. The prophecy related to blocking out the sun is vague enough that it's hard to tell the exact results predicted.

In the game, Castle Volkihar has coffins, so the Volkihar vampires at least have somewhere they can sleep if they want to. I don't know whether Skyrim programs any vampire NPCs to sleep during part of the day, but the game is inconsistent about sleep cycles: even some mortals are never seen to sleep, when realistically they would have to eventually.

Do vampires have any need to sleep when the sun isn't blocked out by using Auriel's Bow? Does it depend on the tribe of vampire or strain of vampirism?

  • Well, if the player is a vampire, they still need to sleep to level up, at least in previous Elder Scrolls games. – Thunderforge Jun 18 '16 at 4:21
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    @Thunderforge Not in Skyrim. Anyway, that's just gameplay. The game never makes me sleep, but I do it nearly every day anyway, just for roleplay. Now I'm wondering if that's unnecessary. – Molag Bal Jun 18 '16 at 4:22
  • Doesn't the accepted answer already have the sort of sources you're looking for? I've already presented everything that is available through the in-game books and dialog within the games. There doesn't seem to be anything else either: I've read the licensed novels (trash though they are) and vampirism isn't brought up. I've never seen a developer comment on this, probably because whether vampires sleep isn't relevant to the gameplay. – Thunderforge Sep 12 '16 at 16:28
  • @Thunderforge Ah well, if you've read the novels, you probably covered it. Truth be told, I'm just trying to burn rep to drop below 3k, but I had a foolish hope that there might be more statements out there, so I put the bounty on this question. – Molag Bal Sep 12 '16 at 16:30
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    @amaranth - Why do you want to lose rep? – Adamant Sep 12 '16 at 23:54
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Fura Bloodmouth from the Dawnguard expansion to Skyrim is a Volkihar vampire who says that she sleeps:

I feed when I'm hungry, I sleep when I'm tired and I kill whenever I'm in the mood. These are the things important to me.

The in-game book Immortal Blood, which is available in Oblivion, Skyrim, and The Elder Scrolls Online, discusses the varieties of vampires and suggests that in general they all sleep:

"I would like to continue this tomorrow night, if I could. I need to get some sleep and absorb this."

"You sleep during the day," I smiled.

To my surprise, he returned the smile, though it was more of a grimace. "When tracking your prey [vampires], you adapt their habits."

This is supported in the actual gameplay where a number of vampires are programmed to sleep, usually in a coffin. For instance, Alva is a Nord vampire in Skyrim who once per day can be found sleeping in her coffin. A vampire player character in the same game can also sleep in a coffin and get the Vampire Blood Rested bonus. (Note that although some vampire NPCs do not sleep, there are also non-vampires who do not sleep, so this is simply a gameplay concession made for both vampires and non-vampires).

UESP.net says that Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls Online book Blasphemous Revenants is about vampires, and the books talks about "those who never sleep". It's a bit unclear to me if this phrase really refers to vampires or evil spirits in general, but let's say for a moment that it's about vampires. That either means that some vampires in Morrowind do not need to sleep (Immortal Blood notes that vampires from different provinces have different abilities), or it is a figure of speech for the creatures who are rarely seen sleeping because they hide during the day and don't sleep when normal people do.

  • Ohhh I forgot about Alva. Maybe you have a point about Immortal Blood: I'm not sure it proves that vampires sleep during the day, but it at least suggests that they become inactive during the day, so they're probably sleeping. But do they sleep because they need to, or because they're killing time until the pesky sun goes down? – Molag Bal Jun 18 '16 at 5:31
  • Is all of Blasphemous Revenants in reference to vampires? It looks like the first part might be a general reference to spirits of the dead. I feel like I read something that mentioned that the spirits of the dead serve as guardians of the living if you form a wall of their bones or something, but now I can't remember whether that was even Elder Scrolls lore. – Molag Bal Jun 18 '16 at 5:31
  • I was looking at the description of Blasphemous Revanants on the site, which says it's about vampires, but I don't think that description is actually in the game. Since it can be ambiguous, I edited my answer. – Thunderforge Jun 18 '16 at 5:42
  • OK. Good information (+1). Also, I found what I was talking about earlier: the ghost fence mentioned in Ancestors and the Dunmer. I've read Immortal Blood a zillion times but somehow missed its implication that vampires sleep until now. – Molag Bal Jun 18 '16 at 5:48
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    It might be interesting to point, that in Morrowind game (same universe as Skyrim), character turned into vampire COULD sleep but was suffering from gruesome nightmares described to the player. So it seems that while vampires could sleep they were avoiding it – Yasskier Sep 12 '16 at 20:57
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+50

In Morrowind (game in the same series as Skyrim) player as well was able to turn into a vampire. After that, he/she was still able to sleep but after each resting screen a message describing a nightmare would show, in example:

First nightmare: You dream of someone sleeping peacefully in his bed, when a shadowy, gaunt figure silently enters the room. Approaching the bed, the figure leans down and sinks its fangs into the sleeping person. After a few moments, the pale figure rises, blood dripping down his/her chin. As color flows back into the vampire's face, and his/her features fill out, you recognize the face as your own. You awake screaming.

You dream of long days spent basking in the sunlight of your native lands. You feel the warmth and the heat, and feel your body become refreshed. Then you awaken, knowing it was but a dream.

In your dream, you see a beautiful young woman holding an infant to her breast. It is only as you draw near that you realise that the woman is a desiccated corpse and the child is purple and bloated, dying of plague. As mother and child crumble to dust, you awaken.

In a dream from your childhood you remember playing hiding games with your young friends on a warm summer afternoon. You hide in your parents’ barn, sure you will not be found. Soon, the sweet smell of hay is replaced by a darker, sickly smell. You move deeper into the barn, only to stumble on the rotting corpses of your parents, their throats ripped out. You try to scream as your parents rise and pull you into an embrace.

More nightmares can be found in this thread You can see example of such message in game in this video

This suggests that vampires CAN indeed sleep (or at least rest) but its very unpleasant to say the least. While it doesn't answer the question do they NEED to sleep, I'm pretty sure they would really try to avoid if they could.

It is also worth to point that sleeping as a vampire doesn't regenerate your health, which would suggest that it doesn't provide any meaning of rest.

  • Good information. It would be in keeping with Molag Bal’s character to grant people immortality only to afflict them with daily nightmares. Do you know if any NPC vampires in Morrowind are observed to sleep? Either named vampires or just someone in a cave somewhere that sandboxes in a coffin during the day? – Molag Bal Sep 13 '16 at 1:06
  • I'm sorry but I don't remember, its been well over 10 years since I've played this game - here is an example of vampire stronghold: youtube.com/watch?v=of_A5JR3Ofk you'll notice that it doesn't show anyone sleeping, there are also no beds/coffins visible. Also since the sleep doesn't regenerate your health, it doesn't seem that there is much point of sleeping other that killing time. – Yasskier Sep 13 '16 at 1:31
  • It seems like the games are inconsistent about sleeping patterns, even for mortals. Still, those dreams are a good indication that vampires are capable of sleeping, and they do it at least sometimes, even if they don’t enjoy it. – Molag Bal Sep 13 '16 at 1:46
  • @amaranth Nobody sleeps in Morrowind, not vampires, not mortals. NPC schedules weren't introduced until the following game, Oblivion – Thunderforge Sep 13 '16 at 1:47
  • @Thunderforge Good to know. I was wondering why everyone in that video just stood still. – Molag Bal Sep 13 '16 at 1:47

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