For humans and animals alike sleep comes in two parts, REM and non REM (Rapid Eye Movement).
Non REM sleep happens when we are in a light sleep, and therefore even the slightest noise can wakes us.
As we slip into REM sleep we begin to dream and it becomes more difficult to be woken by outside influences.
To have a restful night’s sleep humans need to go through both of these sleep phases, animals however do not.
So how do animals have a good night’s sleep?
Here are some fascinating facts about the sleeping habits of our pets and other animals:
- It will probably come as no surprise to cat lovers that cats sleep on average 13-14 hours a day. This leaves them fresh and alert for their night-time prowls. The same is true of cats in the wild, like lions and tigers who hunt at night.
- Dolphins have the best of both worlds, only half their brain sleeps at any one time, so they can function perfectly even though they are also having an good night’s sleep. Dolphins do not experience full REM sleep.
- Horses and Cattle are capable of sleeping standing up, but in doing so do not experience REM sleep. However, they do slip into REM sleep if they are lying down.
- Giraffes need very little sleep, only minutes each day, and will take this rest standing up. They are known to lie down occasionally but this is to rest not to sleep. Giraffes will only do this if they feel very safe, because laying down puts them in an extremely vulnerable position if there are predators around.
- A Desert Snail probably has the easiest life in the world because he can sleep for up to three years, and when he is awake he moves very little. A Desert Snail can live for up to 15 years, which means he spends a high percentage of his life asleep.
- The Platypus spends up to 14 hours a day sleeping and spends more time in REM sleep than any other mammal. However, despite being asleep his body will “play out” the action of killing prey in order to deter predators. How clever is that?
- African Baboons probably have the most uncomfortable sleeping position of all the animals so far – they sleep in the treetops on their heels.
- Bats, as we all know sleep during the day and are active at night. Like their fictitious vampire counterparts, we all know bats sleep hanging upside down from eaves or branches in their roost. A lesser known fact, however, is why bats sleep upside down – it’s because they cannot take off and fly from a stationery position. Instead, they need to fall to fly which gives them the necessary lift to escape predators.
- Ever wondered how an Albatross can travel so far? It’s because they’re able to sleep whilst flying.
- The award for the most naps in a day has to go to your friendly Fire Ants. It would appear they never sleep, but studies have shown they have up to 253 power naps each day, each lasting little over 1 minute.
I hope you enjoyed those interesting facts about how animals sleep as much as I did.