Whether you’re a seasoned elephant lover or just curious, there’s a lot to learn about the majestic creatures. From where they sleep to how long they snooze, this article answers all your questions about elephants’ sleeping habits.
While koala bears sleep for over 18 hours per day and giraffes sleep less than four, elephants get a pretty short amount of shut eye. They’re diurnal, and spend their days roaming the African savannah in search of food. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t sleep. Rather, it’s just that their sleep periods are short and broken up into multiple smaller naps throughout the night.
Researchers have found that elephants sleep both lying down and standing up. In the wild, they often choose to sleep standing up as it saves them the energy it takes to move their massive bodies. Additionally, it allows them to be awake and alert in case predators are nearby. They’ve also been seen resting on their tummies or side when they’re sleeping standing up.
Scientists have been able to track the sleeping patterns of elephants by implanting a small gyroscope and activity meter in their trunks. The device records when the animal slept, where they slept and how long they slept for. Using this data, the researchers were able to determine that wild elephants sleep for two hours a night on average. However, they snoozed in shorter bursts than their captive counterparts and did not experience REM sleep at all. This may be because they need to stay alert during the night, when predators are most active.