How Animals Can Help Us Learn to Sleep Better
The animal kingdom and sleep
Sleep. The misunderstood behavior that we desperately need for survival. From fruit flies to humans, we all cherish, “nature’s soft nurse,” said by Shakespeare. But, as humans, it’s easy to forget that the entire planet doesn’t revolve around 6-8 hours of sleep, a cup of coffee and a morning commute. The animal kingdom has unique and diverse sleeping habits – certain marine animals actually sleep underwater, while other animals can go weeks without sleep.
We found 4 animals that have unique sleep habits and a few lessons we can use to improve our sleep routines for the better.
Cats – the over sleepers
On average, cats sleep 13 to 14 hours per day – talk about a cat nap – while at night they roam and hunt. Like small cats, lions don’t need to always be alert to protect themselves and can afford to sleep throughout the day and prowl come dusk.
Some of wish we could get more sleep and others may suffer from excessive sleeping. If you’re clocking 10 or more hours of a sleep per night and you’re still tired during the day you might qualify as an excessive sleep. Don’t fret, there are ways to create a positive sleeping pattern. As with any medical issue, it’s always a good idea to contact a doctor or sleep specialist before making and radical changes.
Giraffes & elephants – the power nappers
Giraffes need less sleep than any other animal. These tall animals only clock 30 minutes of a sleep a day by taking 5-minute power naps. Giraffes are considered a prey animal, so they must always be alert in case of hungry predators.
A power nap can reset our system and provide alertness, just like giraffes. Even a 20-minute siesta can boost your motor skills and allow a strong finish to your day. Believe it or not, some companies even allow their employees to nap after lunch. It’s time to take back the power of the nap.
Albatross – the drowsy flyer
With a wingspan of 6 feet, this majestic bird is known for commuting 10,000 miles in a single journey without using much energy. These birds sleep while in flight so they can dodge hungry whales and sharks.
The albatross has no problem with drowsy flying but it’s not recommended for us humans. Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. The problem is most drivers are unaware they have fallen asleep behind the wheel. You can prevent drowsy driving by using a buddy system, taking breaks or stopping at a rest stop for a nap.
Cows – the non-dreamers
Ever hear of cow tipping? It’s the act of pushing over a cow because they sleep standing up – we do not condone this act but it’s well-known of their sleep routine. Because cows and horses sleep standing, they aren’t able to experience full REM sleep, rapid eye movement which allows us to dream.
To humans, dreams are quite powerful. Dreams can leave us happy, scared or even dumbfounded. How would we be different if we didn’t experience dreams? We should dive into the realm of dreaming for a better understanding.
Animal sleep and us
Even though animal sleep habits and patterns vary drastically from ours, we can learn a lot about how sleep happens and why we sleep from studying the sleep habits of the other inhabitants of our planet.
Check out this National Geographic video detailing strange ways different animals sleep: