Where Do Animals Sleep?

October 23, 2023

Some animals sleep standing up for protection against predators, while others lie down to snooze. Sheep, for example, are diurnal (day-oriented) grazers that get by on little sleep—and very little REM sleep, which can only happen while lying down. To achieve this state of slumber, they may sleep in the shade or next to a river, pond, or termite mound for safety.

Other herbivores such as giraffes and elephants sleep on the ground or lean against an object for safety. However, these animals also spend much of the day eating plants that are low in calories, so they must be awake to make sure they have enough energy to survive. Similarly, many grazing mammals—including horses and cattle—spend very little time in REM sleep.

While some fish become completely dormant to conserve oxygen, sharks and rays use their fins to help them filter water and swim. But if you’ve ever watched them “sleep” while drifting in the ocean, they look just as dead as you might expect—they have a distinct lack of movement and appear unresponsive.

Some reptiles and amphibians go into a dormant state to avoid predators, while some enter hibernation during the winter or summer. But some animals don’t sleep at all—as is often the case for amphibians, such as bullfrogs and American toads.


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