The day cycle is a period of 20 hours in game from 6:00AM to 2:00AM. Past midnight, the player's character becomes tired and in need of sleep. However, The Player can stay awake until 2:00AM, after which their character will pass out.
If the character passes out they will wake up in bed, having been dragged there by either the town's doctor, Harvey, Linus, a JojaMart member or JojaMart doctor. In each case some of the player's money will be lost (the details of this transaction will appear as a letter in the player's letter box). An exception is if the player was lucky enough to pass out inside the house.
Sleep will restore the player's Energy and Health to full if they go to bed before 12:00AM and are not exhausted, and to half if they pass out or are exhausted. The longer past midnight the player stays awake, the less energy they wake up with, with about 50% if they sleep right before 2:00AM.
It is considered nighttime after 6:00PM, which makes it possible to catch night time fish. However, it does not become dark until 8:00PM.
Cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits will automatically go inside their coop or barn at 5:00PM and will start going to sleep at 7:00PM. They will stop moving around at 8:00PM. After 8:00PM, animals can no longer be moved around by nudging (walking into them).
The heart level of cows and goats is increased through successful milking, which can be done any time, including while they are sleeping.
You normally cannot interact with animals while they are asleep, making it impossible raise their heart level. You can, however, occasionally interact with them when they are sleeping if you walk into them (especially repeatedly), causing them to move.
- Tip: The advantage of milking after 8:00PM is that animals never walk away from you. Animals walking away mid-action frequently causes milking and shearing to fail.
Because animals cannot be moved after 8:00PM, this causes a problem if they are in an awkward position. For example, if two cows are end-to-end, the game may keep trying to milk the same one, and they cannot be separated by nudging after 8:00PM.
- Tip: To address this, the player should stand a full pace behind or in front of the intended target, so there is a sizeable gap between the player and the animal.
You can also exit the barn and re enter; the animals will change position randomly, but this makes it hard to keep track of who has been milked.
There is a glitch where, sometimes, if the player is on their horse at 2:00AM, they will not pass out. Instead, the game will freeze momentarily before giving back control. The player can then get on and off their horse again, and continue beyond 2:00AM. The same thing will happen every 10 in-game minutes.
There is also a glitch where if the player selects the journal of quests while beginning to pass out, they will be able to avoid the penalty and continue beyond 2:00AM. To exploit this glitch, the player must select the journal manually, i.e., by using left-click, rather than pressing F. Again, the player will attempt to pass out every 10 minutes.
This glitch can be maintained indefinitely, and can result in a number of odd effects. For example, going to bed late consistently reduces the player's energy for the next morning. If the player uses these glitches to go to sleep after 2:00AM, the energy reduction rate varies but the date will always increment by one.
Using crafting machines after a particularly long abuse of this glitch will consider the start time to be whatever time/date should actually be; so putting Copper Ore into a Furnace after rolling over for two days will make said furnace unavailable for those two days if the player sleeps immediately after. The player can also harvest items that wouldn't have finished until after 2AM. Functions that operate on a day cycle rather than an hour/minute cycle are unaffected, such as NPCs and certain crafting machines like the Keg.
There are game modifications (mods) that allow you to manipulate the clock speed, (i.e., to slow down or speed up the time) to, for example, 10 minutes every second or every 14 seconds, or even to freeze the clock.
Assuming the game will not be paused, a displayed time step of 10 minutes in-game will equal 7 real-life seconds. This means:
- One in-game hour equals 42 seconds.
- One in-game day equals 840 seconds (14 minutes).
- One in-game month equals 392 minutes (~6.533 hours).
- One in-game year equals 1568 minutes (~26.133 hours).
--- This calculation does not contain any game-play induced pauses like cut-scenes or the selling summary after each day ---
Taking this into consideration and assuming the player will use the full 20 hours (6:00 AM to 2:00 AM) available on every day and also assuming the player will collect everything else there is, it would take 3024 minutes (50.4 hours) to "complete the game", since Winter 21st in Year 2 will be the day the last recipe of The Queen of Sauce will be available trough the TV enabling the player to earn the Gourmet Chef achievement.