For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals
For pretty much all humans, the way we sleep is the same. Sleep is one of the most important functions of the human body. Without sleep, you can die within 11-32 days, as it’s our brain’s ways of slowing down and processing information without the hassle of everyday life. There’s a reason that we tend to be cranky when we don’t get enough sleep. However, in the animal kingdom, animals have many different ways and features of sleep that are definitely interesting. As you will learn in this post, some animals don’t even sleep at all! For this blog post, we are splitting the features surrounding sleep into five different categories: No sleep, Weird sleeping positions, Extreme amounts of sleep, and Interesting sleep locations.
To most of us, the idea of never getting any sleep at all seems crazy, and it makes sense. As I mentioned before, not sleeping can cause serious mental and physical problems, and death after a while, so I would not recommend trying this at home.
For this animal, it’s up to interpretation as to whether sharks actually sleep or not. Let me explain. Some species of sharks need to swim constantly to keep water flowing through the gills, and thus, to be able to breathe, however, some sharks, such as the Nursing Shark, have adapted a way to rest on the sea floor and process information in the same way that we do when we sleep. So, whether some sharks sleep or not is entirely dependent on the way that you would define sleep in itself. If you think that sleep is a state of unconsciousness like it is for humans, then, sharks don’t sleep. If you define sleep as slowing down to allow the brain to process information, then sharks do sleep. But, if we are to take the human perspective, by comparing their version of sleep to ours, it is reasonable to say that sharks don’t sleep.
Some animals are definitely different from humans. For one, bullfrogs can go months on end without “sleeping” (gosh, could you imagine that with humans?). Even when they do “sleep”, it’s hard to consider it so, because, while they do shut their eyes and stop moving, half of their brain is on, so they’re always aware of their surroundings, which makes it so that they don’t become an easy snack to any predators. My question is, what are bullfrogs doing with all of that time? It’s not really like they have somewhere in particular to be, right? I mean, not hate, but they’re just frogs.
Weird Sleeping Positions
For pretty much all humans, we sleep in the same position: laying down on a soft surface of some sort. Some people might sleep horizontal, and others vertical, but not much else changes. Say hello to these animals and the odd positions in which they go to sleep.
By now, it’s pretty much known universally that bats have the ability to hang and sleep upside down. Bats sleep upside down to evade their land-dwelling predators, such as snakes, and because bats wouldn’t be able to take off into flight otherwise, because their wings can’t lift them without the extra boost. It’s impossible for humans to accomplish such a feat, first of all because we’re too dang heavy. Second, because all our blood would rush to our heads. Bats own the heck out of their ability. They’ve even developed their own mattress of sorts: their wings!
Not many people know this, but Frigate birds can actually sleep in midair. This special ability is caused by something in their brain, which they have so they can fly for hours or even days on end without having the serious effects of sleep deprivation. To put this in perspective, that would be like a human falling asleep while running, and continuing to run while they sleep. Frigate Birds have a very odd sleeping position because they’re constantly moving while sleeping! Crazy, right?
Extreme Amounts of Sleep
It’s funny how many humans can’t even deal with a slight change in their sleeping schedule, while these animals can deal with extremely high or low amounts of sleep. These animals will leave you wondering why in the world certain animals sleep in the way that they do, especially considering that it seems like humans can never get enough sleep.
Besides being a common metaphor, the albatross is a seabird that you may not know the name of, but have most likely seen if you’ve ever been to the beach. Albatrosses fly far distances, often over the sea, especially when migrating, and they need a way to catch rest without landing on the sea. They can only sleep while floating in the ocean for very short periods of time, to evade sharks and such, so they’ve developed a way to sleep in midair, similar to Frigate birds. A special thing about this, however, is that albatrosses take hundreds of power naps in mid flight that are only a couple of seconds long! As a result, it’s not hard to imagine that the albatross is not a very well-rested bird.
Sloths in the wild sleep about nine hours a day, which is similar to the amount that humans get, but sloths in captivity get about 15-20 hours of sleep every day–seems like a dream for any human being, especially teenagers. Even when they’re not sleeping, sloths spend most of their time eating and hanging around lazily, not doing a whole lot, which, once again, sounds like a dream.
On the exact opposite of the spectrum from the sloth, although much more than the albatross, giraffes get about 30 minutes of sleep every day. Even then, they can only sleep in about 5 minute intervals, so they can avoid being vulnerable to predators. Most of the time, giraffes don’t lay down to sleep, and instead stand with their neck curled. And we as humans think that it’s bad getting 5 hours of sleep, right?
Interesting Sleeping Locations
As far as sleep goes, pretty much everyone just sleeps in their boring bedrooms. Animals such as these, sleep in very interesting locations that I’m certain will leave you very surprised and wondering about why they would sleep there.
The Macrotis, more commonly known as the Bilby, is a not very well known nocturnal marsupial that dwells underground. Bilbies live underground in the desert in large tunnels that they dig, where they rarely leave or stray from. They always sleep underground, during the day because they’re nocturnal. Anyone with claustrophobia beware!
The giant panda is known for their general laziness, sitting around and eating bamboo most of the time. Something interesting about pandas is that they don’t just dine in vegetation, they also sleep in it. Pandas like to sleep amongst the branches of trees, and hang out there in general.
Most people know what hibernation is. Animals don’t have cozy huts like humans do, so they must retreat underground or into dens to sleep the entire winter away. As it turns out, frogs do this too, specifically the leopard frog. Something interesting about this is that these frogs ‘hibernate’ underwater. With frogs, they stay underwater in ice-encrusted pools of water, and spend most of their time resting on mud at the bottom of pools. Sometimes they even swim around while in this stupor.
The next time you curl up to go to sleep in your nice warm bed, be thankful that you are a human. Or, if you’re a pessimist, be mad that you’re not a sloth.