• Dr. Herpy

Why do some animals sleep so much?

Why do some animals sleep so much?

 

By Kelly Slivka

 

This article from livescience.com is all about animals and their sleep habits. You have probably seen dogs or other animals sleeping away the day. These slumberous scenes may make folks wonder why these other mammals seem to be getting so much more sleep than humans. Do they actually need more sleep? Are they just sleeping because they can? Should humans be sleeping more, too? This article gives the answers to these questions. Though constantly studied, sleep is one of the great mysteries modern science hasn’t completely cracked. Certain kinds of sleep can increase a critter’s ability to fight off illness or consolidate memories. Yet these associations don’t necessarily describe the ultimate purpose of sleep and can be misleading. Brown bats for example sleep for around 20 hours a day but are still not that intelligent, but an elephant only sleeps 1-2 hours a day and is a very intelligent animal and they have great memories too. This makes you ask yourself what sleeps really for. Scientists still believe sleep does serve a core function, though an as-of-yet poorly understood one. Sleep has been observed in every animal ever studied by science, making it as universal across lifeforms as energy intake. Studies have also shown that various animals’ bodies begin to break down if they’re continuously sleep deprived, suggesting sleep is essential. So if it’s essential, why isn’t more always better and the amount always similar, particularly across closely-related animals, like mammals? One idea is that sleep in mammals has to do with body size and diet, according to a 2005 study in the journal Nature. Scientists have observed that less sleep is correlated with larger body sizes, and this correlation is stronger and more extreme among herbivores than it is among carnivores. A reason for this may be that the larger an animal is, the more calories it needs, and the more time it needs to spend eating. Herbivores tend to rely on food that is far less calorie-dense than the food carnivores eat so need to gulp down much more. This could partly explain why an elephant may have evolved to survive on only two hours a day, Raizen said. 

I find this article interesting. I always wondered why we sleep and what it’s for. I knew that it helped replenish your energy but I didn’t know what else it did. I always thought that animals got lots of sleep just like humans. So to find out that big animals like an elephant only sleep 1-2 hours a day is crazy to me. Also the fact that bats sleep 20 hours a day is really cool too. But now that I know why the animals sleep for so long or so little it helps me understand animals a little better. Like how my dog can sleep all night and still take naps for hours or how my lizard sleeps the whole day away. This article is very interesting.