It’s widely acknowledged that human adults should have 8 hours of sleep per night to be as functional as possible in the day, but how much does that differ to the animal kingdom. The Tokens taught us that the that “in the jungle the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight”, but how long for? Below are 7 of the most varied and bizarre sleeping habits from the animal kingdom.
As a general rule, animals sleep more in captivity because the dangers of living in the wild (predators) no longer apply. Spare a thought then for the fury skyscrapers, who in the wild have to get by on as little as half an hour a day. Despite the size of giraffes (16-20ft tall), they are relatively defenceless when sat down, not having thick hides, sharp teeth or natural armour to protect against Africa’s big cats.
They don’t even get a chance to sit down, because it takes a considerable time for them to get back up, which could prove dangerous. Instead they generally sleep standing up, essentially with one eye open, so they can make a quick escape if needed (the giraffe can run up to 35 mph).
Little Brown Bats
From one extreme to another, the little brown bat could probably spare the giraffe some pillow time, as they sleep as long as 19 hours a day. This figure does come from those in captivity however, and it is thought that those in the wild generally have less, but still plenty more than your average giraffe thats for sure.
It is thought they sleep for so long to preserve as much energy as possible, so they need only hunt for a few hours per night when their favoured insects are more readily available.
There are a number of different major tiger species (Bengal, South China, Siberian being a few), but they all share very similar sleeping habits. Not dissimilar to the sleeping habits of the bat, Tigers spend as much time sleeping as possible to conserve energy for hunting.
In the wild tigers will spend as long as 16-20 hours a day resting, often quite sadistically near their prey, so that they don’t waste time searching for prey once they have woken up.
One of the greatest differences between the way in which humans and animals sleep is that many animals break up their sleep. Humans have what is called a monophasic cycle, meaning we get all of our sleep in one go, whereas most animals have polyphasic cycles, meaning the break up their sleep.
This is very much how the grey seal operates. To keep on the move whilst asleep, the grey seal gets lots of its shut eye in the sea. To manage its breathing, they sleep on their backs with their noses peaking above the surface. While it may only rest for a couple of minutes at a time, it will clock up between 6 and 7 hours per day.
Similarly to the giraffe, the Zebra is a prime target for the big cats in the wild due to its ample meat and its limited defences. Unlike giraffes however, Zebras are quite sociable animals, and I’ve in large groups. Working together allows them for slightly more sleep per day, somewhere between 2 and 3 hours, again standing up.
The biggest difference is that they tend to pair up and rest their heads on the back of its partner, interlocking their necks. Tis allows them to face multiple directions and helps then escape when being attacked.
Another animal that tends to look out for its counterpart is the otter. They are often hunted on land so don’t always choose to sleep on land. Instead they sleep floating on their backs. To prevent being washed away they will often anchor themselves with their tails to something growing in the water, and to prevent losing their partners they hold on to each other.
There are a number of different otter species, with some having more nocturnal habits than others, so their sleep habits can massively vary. Nocturnal otters sleep for most of the day, so get more than those that aren’t.
The chimpanzee is known as the closest living relative to humans, and our fury cousins have very similar sleeping habits to us also. Chimps will have anything up to 10 hours a night, putting their sleep close to our recommended 8 hours.
Comfort is a big thing for them too, and while we like to find the right pillows, bedding, duvets or mattress to be comfortable at night, chimps will pick and choose the most commutable tree they can find before committing to a nap.
While we all might dream of borrowing the sleeping habits of a little brown bat, most of us would like to stay clear of the giraffes half an hour. From the animals about it becomes clear that our habits are very different to the majority of the animal kingdom, and perhaps unsurprisingly the animal closest to us is the chimpanzee.