Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Astonishing Animal Sleeping Patterns (A Guest Post)

By Eugene Gabriel

Image from Pexels.
Sleeping patterns across the animal kingdom are just as amazingly interesting and diverse as the animal kingdom itself. While some sleep with half their brain alert, some can go weeks without sleeping. While some take power naps lasting only a minute, some can snooze for 3 years. Keep on reading for some astonishing yet adorable animal sleeping patterns.


Giraffes


The tallest mammal in the world has one of the shortest sleep requirements. Did you know giraffes can go weeks without sleep? When they do sleep it's for short bursts of only 5 minutes with a total of no more than 2 hours in a day. Giraffes sleep in an upright standing position with their neck curled up to rest their head on their hind. They curl up to sleep in a similar fashion while sitting too which is quite an adorable sight but a rare one too. That's because in the wild they always have to be on their toes and in case of a wild cat pouncing on the herd, it really is a task to get those long legs back on the ground and going.


Horses


Like giraffes, horses are also standing sleepers. They are able to lock their legs in a straight standing position in such a way that it doesn’t require much muscle effort. So in this way they can stay alert even in rest mode. But to experience REM (rapid eye movement) sleep they must sit down. This means that like us humans horses also dream.


Meerkats


Image from Ltshears at Wikimedia Commons.
Meerkats are pack animals and they sleep in the same way too. They do this by getting on top of each other and making a heap, like puppies. In this way they are able to stay warm in the cold desert night. The pack leader sleeps at the bottom getting the best sleep and staying protected from predators.


Desert snail


The longest nap award goes to the desert snail which has been known to snooze for three years.


Dolphins


Dolphins literally sleep with one eye open! When sleeping dolphins will only shut half of their brain and close the opposite eye (when the right part of the brain sleeps the left eye is closed). After two hours or so, the sides switch, so both eyes and brain hemispheres get their due rest. Sounds weird right? But unlike humans who breathe automatically, dolphins breathe consciously. This means that they cannot go into deep sleep because they could suffocate from lack of air and drown. So while one half of the brain rests, the other half remains active and controls breathing functions. This also helps to monitor dangers in the environment.


Ants


We see ants working day and night and it seems that they hardly ever sleep but research shows that ants takes about 253 power naps lasting 1.1 minutes, on a daily basis.


Otters


Otters sleep in the cutest way by laying their backs on the surface of water and holding hands with each other. They do this to prevent themselves from floating away. They sleep for around 6 hours a day.


Lions


Image from Charlesjsharp at Wikimedia Commons.
Sitting at the top of the food chain, lions and other big cats have no fear of predators. So once they have feasted on their prey they can take a long peaceful nap. Lions are known to sleep for 13 hours a day.


Swainson’s Thrushes


Migratory birds like Swainson’s Thrushes have to fly incredibly long distances. So they catch up on their sleep whilst flying and take hundreds of power naps lasting only a few seconds at a time. They have also adopted another form of sleep, like dolphins in which they rest one eye and one half of their brains while the other half of eye and brain remains alert.

Animals never cease to amaze us and the variety of ways in which animals sleep is just astonishing. But unlike us humans who can forget about everything as soon as we hit the hay, animals have to constantly monitor their surroundings for survival in the wild.


References:
Livescience
Huffington Post

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