Sleep in the wild

We’ve been investigating the subject of non-human sleep, and boy, do we have an interesting blog for you today!

Animals catch their shut-eye in a variety of weird and wonderful ways, so we’ve compiled a list of nature’s most creative and skilful sleepers…

1) Clichéd mafia bosses often say, ‘Sleep with one eye open’, which is great fun if you’re a fan of old gangster movies. But it also just happens to be a good description of how certain animals sleep.

The phenomenon is called unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (USWS) and involves being able to put one half of the brain to sleep whilst keeping the other half alert and conscious.

USWS is thought to help with avoiding predators and has been witnessed in lots of animals, including dolphins, whales, seals, sparrows and even chickens.

2) We all have our preferred sleeping position, but we think even the most flexible of contortionists would struggle with this one…

Giraffes hold the record for the world’s longest neck and have the shortest sleep requirement of all mammals, surviving on just 30 minutes per day. But when giraffes go to sleep, they lie down and rest their head on their rump. Even though they are adorable, we think it looks pretty uncomfortable – in fact, we can’t even look at them without getting a crick in our necks!

3) The phrase ‘flying blind’ was coined in WWII and was originally used to describe when aircraft pilots where unable to see and had to navigate the skies using only their instruments.

If you think that seems impressive, spare a moment for the wanderer of the heavens: the frigate bird. Not only can these birds perform USWS, the clever type of sleep that involves shutting down one half of the brain at a time, but they can also fly with both eyes shut – now that’s cool!

4) Hibernating bears can do some extraordinary things. Their bodies can recycle protein and urine, which means that they can sleep for months on end without going to the loo, and their heart rate can slow from 50 bpm to just 10.

Let us know in the comment section below if you have any interesting sleeping habits. They may not be as wild as those above, but we’d love to hear all about them.

Sleep well!

James Murray

James Murray

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