When it comes to sleeping, we all want the same thing: restful sleep. Whether we’re at home on the couch, in line at the grocery store, or even while we’re driving down the road, our bodies are begging us to relax and get some good ol’ rest. Horses may seem to have a different approach to this whole “sleep” thing though, especially with their unique sleeping habits. So where do wild horses sleep?
The first thing to remember about the sleep patterns of horses is that they are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. This means that they spend most of their nights alternating between sleeping and activity. They might take a short snooze standing up, graze for a bit, and then lie down to get some deep rest before they do it all over again.
This method of resting is a result of the fact that horses are prey animals with an extremely high “fight or flight” instinct. When a dangerous situation arises, they need to be on their feet in order to escape. If they were laying down, they would be unable to move as quickly, and this could lead to a serious injury or even death.
That being said, horses still need to get a certain type of restful sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement). This is the stage of deep sleep that humans need in order to feel rejuvenated. While horses can snooze on their feet, they are not able to enter this type of deep sleep. This is why they need to lie down in order to achieve REM. Horses who are unable to go into this deep of a sleep can suffer from what is called hypersomnia, or excessive daytime sleepiness. This can also be a sign of neurological conditions like Narcolepsy, so if you suspect that your horse is suffering from this condition, please consult with a veterinarian right away.