There are some very strange and wonderful sleep techniques in the animal kingdom. Here are some of my favorites!
The albatross is a sea bird that spends much of its life soaring around hunting. Its lifestyle doesn’t leave a lot of time for sleeping, so it’s believed the albatross sleeps while flying taking hundreds of little power naps lasting only a few seconds each. Sounds exhasting.
Koalas (They are not bears, they are marsupials and it’s incorrect to call them koala bears. Just koalas) sleep on average 20 to 22 hours a day. Most of their time is spent sleeping because they require a lot of energy to digest their toxic, fibrous, low-nutrition diet and sleeping is the best way to conserve energy.
A bottlenose dolphin sleeps by shutting down half of its brain, and the eye opposite the snoozing hemisphere. The other half of the brain (and opposite eye) stays turned on to watch out for other dolphins or predators. It also tells the dolphin when to come up for air. After two hours or so, the sides switch, so both eyes and brain hemispheres get their sleep. This process isn’t unique to dolphins. Fruit bats, porpoises, iguanas, seals, birds, and ducks do it too. Who woulda thought?
When ducks sleep, they line up in a row. The ones at each end of the line keep the eye facing away from the group open to watch out for predators, and close the other. The ducks inside close both of their eyes. The single brain hemisphere sleep in the bookending ducks keeps the whole row safe. Then the bookends switch off with ducks inside the row.
Adult giraffes sleep on average 30 minutes a day and usually in 5 minute segments. It’s the shortest sleep requirement in the entire animal kingdom! They also often sleep with one eye open to watch for predators but from what I understand it’s not the single brain hemisphere thing so I don’t quite get it. But 30 minutes!? God, I need at least 9 hours!
There are species of sharks that need to swim constantly to keep water moving over their gills. These sharks seem to have active periods and restful periods, rather than undergoing deep sleep like we do. (In particular like I do.) They “sleep” with parts of their brain less active, or “resting,” while the shark remains swimming.
Otters know that predators aren’t the only concern when they are asleep. There’s also the possibility of drifting off (no pun intended). When sea otters fall asleep, they do so while lying on their backs at the surface of the water and in groups, sometimes in seaweed forests or holding hands to keep from floating apart. Soooo cute.
Desert snails can sleep for years. One famous incident involved an Egyptian desert snail assumed dead by a British Museum staffer who affixed the snail to an identification card. Four years later, traces of slime were discovered on the card and the shell was put in water and the little guy crawled out!! OMG!
Starts sounding a little boring the way homo sapiens just get into bed and go to sleep. (Or, worse, not go to sleep. Hehe.)