Rapid expansion of human activity has driven well-documented shifts in the spatial distribution of wildlife, but the cumulative effect of human disturbance on the temporal dynamics of animals has not been quantified. We examined anthropogenic effects on mammal diel activity patterns, conducting a meta-analysis of 76 studies of 62 species from six continents. Our global study revealed a strong effect of humans on daily patterns of wildlife activity. Animals increased their nocturnality by an average factor of 1.36 in response to human disturbance. This finding was consistent across continents, habitats, taxa, and human activities. As the global human footprint expands, temporal avoidance of humans may facilitate human-wildlife coexistence. However, such responses can result in marked shifts away from natural patterns of activity, with consequences for fitness, population persistence, community interactions, and evolution.