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You're a dragon who has just spent 16 hours straight of dodging tropical thunderstorms and in-flight icing. You really would like a nice nap about now...can you simply "lock your wings" and glide around while half-snoring, kind of like how a horse can nap whilst standing up? Or are you stuck finding a landing spot to park so you can get some hard-earned shuteye?

P.S. FR lore or D&D source text (such as the Draconomicon) would be preferable here, but a simulationist argument is acceptable in the absence of lore saying one way or another.

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The 3.5th edition Draconomicon makes no mention about the sleeping/resting behavior of dragons, other than that they do sleep, page 11 states (when talking about a nesting female dragon, emphasis mine):

A dragon egg’s ovoid shape gives it great resistance to pressure, and the female can walk, fight, or sleep atop the nest without fear of breaking her eggs.

Oddly enough, the 4th edition Draconomicon states (page 11):

A dragon can fly for many minutes at full speed, for hours at a reasonable pace, and for days on end if it relies substantially on gliding and updrafts.

However, the 4th edition does not say anything about the effect of flying 'for days on end'. Therefore, I focus mostly on the 3.5th edition book (as the 4th edition book seems catored to offering dungeons/adventures rather than new information regarding dragons). In conclusion, we can not conclude anything directly from both sourcebooks regarding sleeping in the air or on the ground.

However, both books clearly stress that dragons are basically very bad/clumsy flyers (see the amount of effort it takes a red dragon to get in the air on page 18/19, 3.5th Draconomicon).

Therefore, I would personally expect that a clumsy flying creature requires significant conscious thought to stay airborne, meaning that sleeping on the wing would be something that I rule against.

PS: 16 hours of flying? That's a lot of forced march checks ;)

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Even Ducks, who fly in a V formation so that the air currents manipulated by the lead duck lift the ducks behind them in the formation, cannot fly completely autonomously. It takes some conscious effort for them to maintain their bearing, keep at the proper altitude, etc. That just isn't possible while unconscious from sleep.

Dragons are already very poor fliers as is, so the likelyhood that a dragon can just turn on Cruise control and coast for a few hours is very highly unlikely. A dragon would be more likely to find a place on which to land. For example, a White dragon or another dragon with cold breath could freeze themselves an ice drift with their breath and rest there. A Black dragon, Green Dragon, or a Gold or Bronze Dragon could easily rest at the bottom of the ocean due to their ability to breathe water.

Other dragons such as Reds might have some problems trying to find a place to rest, though if they're old enough (Ancient or higher) most dragons have access to Find the Path, which can be used to navigate to a patch of land where they can rest with no trouble.

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Certain species of migrating birds are able to fly many, many days without landing. Basically, these birds have been observed flying for 200 days straight (eating bugs in the air for food) without landing.

I would think if this dragon was similarly accustomed to flying for long amounts of time, it's certainly possible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you summarise the essential, relevant parts of the link in your answer here please? That way your answer is still valid if the link changes or goes offline. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Oct 30 '15 at 2:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1: Speculation based on completely unrelated real-world creatures hardly seems like an appropriate answer here. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 30 '15 at 3:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Miniman, a dragon is a completely different build than a migrating bird. Dragons in D&D make lairs and don't tend to leave those to migrate somewhere else, why would they have become adapted at sleeping in the air when they can just return to their lair, which is far safer to sleep in than sleeping while flying? \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 30 '15 at 6:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik I'd say that sleeping in the air is tremendously safe. In some cases definitely safer than in the lair. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Oct 30 '15 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik Note that this is a Forgotten Realms question though. To pull off one of the (in)famous dragonflights, the hundreds of dragons involved would have to fly distances equivalent to migration. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 30 '15 at 14:31

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