Dreaming In The Wild: 17 Weird Ways Animals Sleep

Having not enough sleep or no sleep at all makes us cranky and jittery. Same goes for the animal kingdom, and more. Imagine giraffes going for an 8-hour sleep. She would end up as lunch for sure. That’s why these animals have developed unique sleeping patterns, as a coping mechanism with their environment. This weird ways animals sleep guide covers all planes, air, land, and water.

1. Sloths

weird ways animals sleep: sloths
Everyone loves these guys! They seem to have really mastered the art of sleep. It can often be that they’re or snoozing while hanging from tree branches, most likely in a yoga-like posture. It’s like they’re practicing the most Zen form of sleep in the treetops. And they go at it for about 15 hours per day because, let’s face it, they have nothing better to do.

2. Dolphins

Dolphins are the vigilant sleepers of the sea. They sleep with one eye open, resting one hemisphere of their brain at a time. This allows them to stay alert and avoid becoming shark bait. It’s a bit like having a nightlight on during a nap.

3. Giraffes


Giraffes are the epitome of grace even when they’re asleep. They usually sleep for a total of about 4.6 hours per day, but this sleep is divided into short episodes that last just a few minutes each. They can have anywhere from 10 to 30 of these short naps during a 24-hour period. As for the sleep itself, they do while standing up, which is quite a feat given their long necks and legs.

4. Ostriches


Ostriches don’t quite bury their heads in the sand, but they do lay on the ground when they sleep. They go through two sleep periods, ‘slow wave sleep’ aka the sleep interval where they don’t look like they’re sleeping, and REM, aka the rapid eye movement and floppy neck stage.

5. Cats

cat sleeping
The master snoozers! These furry felines are the masters of unconventional sleeping positions. They can snooze curled up in a ball, upside-down, or stretched out in ways that defy logic. And they can sleep for up to 20 hours a day!

6. Bats

bat sleeping
These nocturnal creatures are the ultimate night owls. They sleep upside-down, hanging from cave ceilings or tree branches as this allows them to take off quickly if they need to escape from a potential predator or take flight to forage for food. Quick trivia: Some bats, especially those in temperate regions, go into torpor, which is a state of deep hibernation-like sleep.

7. Koalas

cute koala
These marsupials are professional nappers. They snooze up to 20 hours a day because eucalyptus leaves, their main diet, are low in calories and not very nutritious. They gotta cut whatever corners they can. In the remaining 4 hours they’re busy looking cute.

8. Cows

You might think cows just graze and moo, but they’re known for their unique sleep pattern. They have short bursts of deep sleep while standing, and they often dreamily chew cud. When REM sleep kicks in they rest on the grown but until then they stand up. As for the sleeping arrangements, they sleep close to their family in a predetermined order according to the family’s hierarchy.

9. Platypuses


These adorable, duck-billed mammals spend eight hours in REM sleep, more than any other animal, more than humans, even. If they’re taking a nap they do so underwater but if they go for a full-on sleep, they go straight to their burrows.

10. Kangaroos

Kangaroos are on-the-go nappers and perhaps the funniest ones yet. Built like a tank but totally adorable when they lay on their backs to go for a snooze. And they do during the day to avoid the scorching heat.

11. Walruses

Granted, they may look like blubbery beach bums, but they’re all about the ocean. They can sleep in the water, floating on the surface or even at the bottom, by using their tusks to anchor themselves. And they need all the sleep they can get as they often go even 84 hours without sleep.

12. Frigatebirds

frigate bird
These seabirds have mastered the art of in-flight snoozing. They can stay airborne for weeks during long ocean journeys and catch some rest mid-flight by gliding on air currents. Each sleep phase lasts around 12 seconds, which means they get around 42 minutes of sleep during each 24-hour period. Talk about being jet lagged!

13. Horses

Horses are known for their short, frequent naps rather than long, deep sleeps. They often doze standing up, thanks to a locking mechanism in their legs that keeps them upright while they rest, the same goes for zebras. Believe it or not, horses only get around 3 hours of sleep a day.

14. Ants

Ants are serious workaholics, but they also need their beauty sleep. Some ants, like the fire ant, take power naps that last just about a minute. They’ll lean against each other and then pop back up, ready to hustle.

15. Sea Otters

sea otters
Sea otters sleep on their backs on the water’s surface, often anchored to kelp. They even hold hands with fellow otters while snoozing to avoid drifting apart, breaking hearts all over the internet.

16. Penguins

Emperor penguins have it tough in Antarctica. They huddle together in massive groups to stay warm and conserve energy. These chilly birds take turns sleeping on the outside of the huddle then switch positions. Teamwork, right?

17. Sperm Whales

sperm whale
They’re deep divers and they can hold their breath for a long time. This allows them to snooze for 10, 15 minutes while not breathing at all.

Recommended reading next: 13 Weirdest Named Animals You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

What are unihemispheric sleepers?

This is a fancy way of saying sleeping with one hemisphere of their brain while keeping the other hemisphere awake and alert. This adaptation allows them to rest and remain vigilant simultaneously, which can be crucial for survival in their natural environments. Dolphins, whales, sea lions, and seals, they all sleep like this, keeping just one eye open at the time.

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