Just like us humans, animals sleep to restore their energy and to relax after a long, hard day of jumping through trees and flying from place to place. However, their sleeping patterns are a little different.
When you think of animals, there’s a high chance that you imagine them to be a world away from your human existence. After all, we don’t swing through trees, we can’t fly high above the ground, and we definitely can’t swim under the water for hours on end without having to come up for air. However, it seems as though many of the animals within the animal kingdom aren’t too different from us. They have families, they eat food on a regular basis, and they sleep when they’re tired.
Yes, animals head off into dreamland and catch their Zs when they can, but it’s fair to say that their sleeping patterns are fairly different from our eight hours a night. There are many animals in this world who hibernate for weeks on end, while there are others who only sleep for minutes at a time to avoid being eaten by predators. Every single animal on this planet has adopted their own sleeping patterns and techniques, and some of them may surprise you.
A sleeping albatross
If you live near the ocean, there’s a high chance that you have seen an albatross and its giant wings soaring above the waves. In fact, you may have witnessed a sleeping albatross! This large seabird spends most of its time flying above the ground because the ocean can be extremely dangerous for them.
If they rest for too long on the waves, they are essentially serving themselves up as dinner for many of the animals that swim beneath the surface. Because of this, it’s long been held that the albatross has learned how to sleep while flying. While it’s not known how long they sleep for at a time, scientists suggest that they do so in short snippets to ensure that they are safe at all times.
Most people have gotten their information about meerkats from the likes of The Lion King and Madagascar, but these animals are actually extremely intelligent. While they may be small, they tend to keep themselves fairly safe from danger because they choose to live within a large community called a gang.
This gang consists of one alpha male and one alpha female, and then they all work together to keep each other safe, to keep each other well-fed, and to keep each other well-rested. To do this, they bundle on top of each other and sleep in one giant heap. This keeps them warm, while also allowing them to all sleep at the same time.
A sleeping bear
There’s a high chance that you already know a little bit about bears and their sleeping habits. That’s because they are one of the only animals within the animal kingdom that hibernate during the winter months. That’s because their food is scarce and the weather is harsh during this time, making it easier for bears to simply hide away and sleep off the winter.
What’s so amazing about this process is that bears slow down their heart rates during this time, and they also stop most of their natural processes. They don’t drink, they don’t eat, they don’t exercise, and they don’t defecate. Despite all of this, mamma bears can still give birth while they are hibernating!
A sleeping giraffe
Giraffes are certainly one of the most bizarre creatures out there. With their long legs and their equally long necks, there is no animal quite like the giraffe in the animal kingdom. It seems as though they are also pretty unique in terms of their sleeping patterns. Although they may be much larger than some of the animals around them in their natural habitats, this can actually work against them.
Their huge size means that they are extremely vulnerable to predators, which means that they can’t afford to sleep for hours on end. So, they only really sleep for around 20 minutes a day to maintain their safety. They have adapted to survive on this small amount of sleep, and do so by curling up into themselves and looking super adorable.
A sleeping dolphin
Although we’ve come to learn a huge amount about dolphins over the years, many of their habits are still incredible mind-boggling to us. Their sleeping habits have been the source of much scientific research and exploration over the years because when dolphins sleep, they actually turn off half of their brain! When they do this, they simply float in the water and enter into a deep sleep period known as “logging.”
This allows one half of the brain to sleep and restore energy stores, while the other half of the brain remains alert and awake to prepare for any predators or dangers nearby. This side of the brain that remains awake also lets the dolphin know when it needs to float up towards the surface for oxygen, and it will switch sides every two hours or so.
Most people don’t get the chance to see flamingos on a regular basis, but you might know that they often stand on one leg. They actually do this when they are sleeping, and there’s a very scientific reason why they do such a thing. Like many other animals in this world, flamingos only shut off half of their brain while they are sleeping. This allows them to sleep without putting themselves in too much danger because one-half of their brain is still awake.
While scientists are still a little murky on why exactly flamingos sleep on one leg, it’s been suggested that this could indicate which side of their brain they turn off while sleeping. After all, if they are resting one side of their brain, they could also rest one of their legs.
It’s no secret that ducks come in all shapes and sizes, but what you might not know is how they sleep. Instead of heading off on their own to catch up on some Zs, ducks actually work together to make sure they are well-rested. They will almost always huddle together in a row, and take it in turns to not only sleep but to also keep an eye out for any predators.
To do this, the ducks at the end of the rows make it their mission to keep the rest of the ducks safe. While they do sleep, they only do so with one of their eyes closed, while the other eye is awake and alert. The ducks in the middle are then able to close both of their eyes and get a full amount of sleep. They then switch around.
A sleeping chimpanzee
Over the years, scientists have paid particular attention to the apes of this world, because they are known to be the closest animal to the human being. You can see this when you investigate their sleeping patterns because they are not too different from our own.
Although they don’t quite have their own houses and their own mattresses, chimpanzees do actually make their own beds in the treetops. They create their own platforms, and they curl up on these platforms to keep them safe from any predators. By doing this, they know that they can snooze and get as much sleep as they need without being disrupted.
A sleeping great frigatebird
The great frigatebird is one of the most unique seabirds that this world has to offer, but few people get to see them in the flesh – let alone as they lay down and puff out their red chests! That’s because great frigatebirds spend months and months flying above the oceans without taking a breather and letting themselves rest their wings.
While this may sound pretty tiring, these birds have worked out a system that allows them to do such a thing. Instead of heading to a tree to sleep for the night, these birds actually sleep while they are flying. Over the course of one day, it’s believed that great frigatebirds sleep for around 40 minutes in total. However, they split this up in 7 – 12-second intervals.
Ferrets can not only be found in the wild, but many people also keep them as pets. If you have ever been around a ferret, you’ll know that they actually spend a huge portion of their lives asleep! Most ferrets will sleep for around 20 hours a day, and it’s been suggested that male ferrets can sometimes sleep for much longer periods of time than their female counterparts.
However, their strange sleeping patterns don’t end there. Many ferret owners often take their ferrets to the vets because they haven’t moved in days and they believe them to be deceased. However, this often isn’t the case. Ferrets often make their way into something called “dead sleep,” where they may sleep for days on end.
A sleeping sloth
Although sloths are known for being pretty cuddly, they are also known for being incredibly slow-moving. Because of this, it should come as no surprise to learn that these animals love to sleep. The sleeping pattern of the sloth changes depending on its environment, as captive sloths and wild sloths, have exhibited various different sleeping patterns.
Wild sloths normally sleep for around 10 hours a day, while captive sloths can sleep between 15 to 20 hours per day. What’s pretty cool about these animals is that they like to get pretty comfortable when they sleep. Many curl themselves up within the fork of a tree, others hang from branches, while there are even some who stretch out and chill on these branches.
Penguins may be some of the most adorable animals that the animal kingdom has to offer, but that doesn’t always work in their favor. They are constantly at risk of being eaten, which means that they have to constantly be alert. Because of this, they have adopted a sleeping pattern that works for them.
Instead of sleeping for long periods at a time, these animals take short naps within large groups. They huddle together, and the penguins in the middle of the huddle can tuck their heads into their feathers for some well-needed REM sleep. While the penguins on the outside of the huddle do sleep, they don’t go into such a deep trance. These animals then swap around.
A sleeping shark
Sharks are some of the most dangerous animals in the world, and there are countless different species out there in the world. Known for their sharp teeth and their sensitive sense of smell, sharks are also known for their important sleeping patterns. As one of the main predators in the ocean, sharks don’t need to worry too much about being eaten by other animals. Because of this, they have the option to fully shut down their active brain to get the sleep that they need.
In fact, the only thing that sharks need to worry about is maintaining the oxygen in their body. Some sharks keep swimming through the ocean to get the oxygen through their gills, while others face the current to allow the water to move over their gills instead.
A sleeping otter
There’s a high chance that you’ve seen cute and adorable photos of otters holding hands while they’re sleeping, but you might be surprised to know that they don’t do this because they can’t bear to be apart from each other. As largely water-dwelling animals, otters actually sleep on their backs as they float in the ocean or rivers.
Of course, anyone who has been in large bodies of water before will know that currents can pull you away in an instant. To stop this from happening, and to stop them being separated from their family, otters choose to hold hands to ensure that they stay together at all times.
A sleeping zebra
This zebra is arguably one of the most beautiful animals in the world thanks to its unique black-and-white striped appearance. Yet, what’s even more amazing about these animals is that they can sleep standing up! It’s important to note that zebras don’t always sleep standing up, because they cannot achieve full REM sleep without getting comfortable on the ground and curling up for a little while.
However, they can take short little naps while they are standing up using their “stay apparatus.” This allows them to lock their legs and sleep in short snippets, while also staying alert to any potential predators around them.
Sleeping sperm whales
There are various different species of whales in this world, but it’s fair to say that the sleeping patterns of the sperm whale is extraordinary. As you can see from this photo, these whales don’t float in the water horizontally. Instead, they move their humongous bodies so that they are bobbing vertically near to the surface of the water. Before researchers were able to get a closer look at these sleeping mammals, they believed that they switched off half of their brain during their sleep cycles – just like dolphins.
However, they soon realized that this wasn’t the case. Sperm whales actually sleep with both hemispheres of their brain when they do so, but do not sleep for long periods of time. Instead, they enter into short snippets of nap-mode, where they stop breathing and remain perfectly still.
A sleeping red panda
There’s no doubt about the fact that red pandas are beautiful creatures, but it seems as though they have evolved to thrive in the wild. Much of this has to do with their sleeping patterns because these animals have figured out a way to not only use very little energy while they are awake but to also conserve even more when they are sleeping.
Red pandas spend around 55% of their days asleep, and you will almost always find them lazing on trees. Of course, their stance changes depending on the weather at the time. When the weather is cold, red pandas curl up into a ball to retain their body heat. When the weather is warm, red pandas stretch out on a tree branch and pant to try and cool down.
A sleeping arctic fox
As you can probably tell by the name, the arctic fox is normally found in colder regions of the world. They are decked out in beautiful fur that keeps them warm, but you’ll know that sleeping in the cold isn’t easy. Thankfully, arctic foxes have found the perfect way to ensure that they stay well-rested when they need to.
Although they spend a huge amount of their time hunting food, arctic foxes also find or build their own dens to keep them safe and warm as the sun begins to set. To maintain a high body temperature as the outside temperature lowers, the arctic fox also tucks its nose into its body to stay as snuggly as possible.
A sleeping koala
Most animals are known for certain characteristics, and there’s no doubt about the fact that koalas are known for their sleeping patterns. That’s because they sleep for around 20 hours a day, and then spend the rest of their day eating! Because they sleep so much, you would think that they would be full of energy when they are awake, but that just isn’t the case.
Koalas sleep so much to conserve and restore energy, but their diet doesn’t exactly help that. As strict herbivores, koalas normally live off a diet of eucalyptus leaves. These leaves are low in calories, which means that they have very little energy to convert. So, koalas don’t have much of an option but to sleep.
There are many animals in this world who only sleep for short snippets at a time, but bats aren’t part of that group. In fact, these animals love their sleep! Bats normally sleep for around 19 hours a day and use the rest of the day to hunt for their food. Of course, they don’t sleep while flying and they definitely don’t sleep curled up on the floor.
They instead sleep while hanging upside down on trees, in caves, or anywhere they can find space. Thankfully, bats have become well-adapted to these sleeping arrangements, as it actually works better for them. Because they have weak wings, it’s much easier for bats to take off into the air while they are hanging upside down.
A sleeping polar bear
There’s a high chance that you have never come up close and personal with a polar bear, and there’s a high chance that you never will. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t know all about their sleeping patterns. Polar bears spend a huge amount of their time sleeping, and when they do this, they normally use their paw as a pillow!
Although they are close to the bear in terms of the polar bear’s family tree, it’s interesting to note that polar bears don’t hibernate. Although food is much more scarce during the winter months, polar bears simply enter a state of “carnivore lethargy” where they lower their body temperature slightly and spend more time sleeping.
A sleeping parrotfish
The world is full of amazing and colorful fish species, but it’s fair to say that the parrotfish stands out from the crowd in terms of its sleeping habits. Although there’s no doubt about the fact that this fish is incredibly beautiful, it’s also incredibly strange. That’s because this fish produces a mucus cocoon just before it goes to sleep.
This cocoon makes its way around the whole body of the fish and works in many different ways. On the one hand, it seems to camouflage the fish slightly, meaning it can stay as safe as possible during its sleep periods. On the other hand, it can also serve as a predator detection system. If the bubble pops while the fish is sleeping, it will know that there is danger nearby.
As you can imagine, horses are extremely similar to zebras in terms of their sleeping patterns. Just like their stripy cousins, horses have the ability to sleep standing up. They lock their legs in place, and they can stand there for minutes or even hours on end to get in a little nap.
This also allows them to keep an eye out for any potential predators that wish to harm them. However, when they want to fully restore their energy levels and get a large amount of sleep, horses lay down on the ground and sprawl themselves out. This allows them to enter into REM sleep, leaving them refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
A sleeping panda
It should probably come as no surprise to learn that pandas don’t have too many predators. They are relatively docile creatures that are extremely large, and it seems as though other animals rarely try their luck. This means that pandas don’t have to put too much thought into their sleeping patterns.
They are often found curled up on the floor, they can be found snoozing in trees, and they can even be found leaning up against tree trunks! Although pandas do sleep for around 2 to 3 hours at a time, they only do this in short intervals. They spend the rest of their days chowing down on their favorite meal; bamboo, with a side of bamboo.
A sleeping chameleon
Chameleons are unique and beautiful creatures. Not only can they change their appearance within seconds, but they also feature a perfectly curled tail that makes them amazing to look at. Unlike many other animals on this list, chameleons are the kind of creatures that love their own personal space.
Because of this, they will not sleep around other chameleons, but will instead head off into the forest and perch on a tree instead. Chameleons can stand perfectly still while on a branch, and although many of them tend to just camouflage themselves during this sleeping period, many also cover themselves with leaves.
If you have ever seen a pig in real life, there’s a high chance that it was either asleep or eating. That’s because pigs generally sleep for around 11 hours a day, and spend the rest of it filling up their stomachs. Although fully-grown pigs spend this time sleeping, piglets require even more sleep.
This is to help them grow and develop into strong animals, and they normally do this while surrounded by their brothers and sisters. Pigs require dry and warm sleeping conditions, and these conditions can normally be found on their siblings’ body. Because of this, it seems as though they are cuddling!
A sleeping elephant
As the largest land mammal to reside on this planet, you’d think that elephants needed a huge amount of sleep after lugging their giant bodies around all day. While elephants do sleep for between 3 and 7 hours every single day, they actually split this up throughout the day.
They normally take part in small naps that last between half an hour and two hours, and they do this in between feeding. What’s amazing about these animals is that, despite their size, they still manage to get themselves down to the ground so they can lay down on the floor. Thankfully, they don’t have to worry too much about predators.
A sleeping leopard
Big cats have always been feared in the animal kingdom, but there’s no doubt about the fact that leopards are absolutely stunning. These creatures may be extremely strong and fast, but they actually spend a huge amount of their time sleeping.
While not much is known about the leopard and its sleeping habits, experts believe that they spend much of their days sleeping or at least pretending to sleep. Leopards will occasionally head out to catch their prey, but once they have done this, they make their way back down to the ground to laze around. Many leopards also head into the trees and stretch out on branches.
A sleeping joey
Kangaroos are some of the most intriguing animals in the world, and everyone knows this animal for its iconic pouch. This pouch serves as an important home for a joey, who grows into a young kangaroo in this warm environment. In fact, baby joeys often spend around five months in its mother’s pouch, which means that it will eat, grow, and sleep within this pouch.
Of course, kangaroos don’t make their way into their own pouch to sleep. Fully-grown kangaroos build nests on the forest floor and will settle down there for the night. They will normally cover this nest in leaves to keep them warm as the sun begins to set.
A sleeping hanging parrot
There are various different species of parrot in this world, but what makes the sleeping hanging parrot so unique is the fact that it hangs upside down when it sleeps! Hanging upside down is not an uncommon trait for parrots, but very few of them actually sleep while they are doing this.
One of the main reasons why these parrots choose to sleep hanging from a branch rather than sitting atop it is because it protects them. They are less likely to be attacked by predators when they are hanging down, which means that they can rest peacefully without having to worry about being eaten.