10 Weird & Wonderful Sleeping Habits of Animals

While experts continue to debate the recommended amount of sleep humans need for their wellbeing, everyone agrees that sleep is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle to rejuvenate our bodies and minds. But what about our furry (and other) friends? Perhaps in our digital age of Siri and smart phones, apps and Alexa, we can learn something from the animal kingdom about how to look after our circadian rhythms. To which creature do you most relate? Let’s explore the wild world of non-human nappers and serious sleepers, in order from least to most sleep:


Nature’s insomniacs, these insects don’t sleep in the traditional sense, which is not surprising given their lack of eyelids. Like us, however, they follow patterns of rest and activity to conserve their energy. They typically choose a safe place to rest in dark cracks and crevices, with their legs underneath them to conserve energy.

Sleeping Spiders


Needing only 10-minute power naps to conserve their energy, penguins are rarely found sleeping for long. Due to the need to remain vigilant against predators from both land and sea, penguins need to remain sharp and stay alert for long periods, so you’ll rarely find them sleeping longer than 10 minutes at a time. They spend their few sleeping moments in large groups called rookeries so some of the penguins will remain on the lookout for potential threats, which also helps to keep the penguins warm when the temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees.

Sleeping Penguins


While their habitats couldn’t be much more different than that of penguins, giraffes actually share some of the same sleep habits. They take 20-minute power naps throughout the day. They are at risk from lions, leopards and hyenas, they travel in packs of about 20 animals, known as towers, to help them stay vigilant against potential predators that roam the African landscape in countries like Chad, Tanzania and Zambia, where giraffes live. Their large groups along with their short power naps help them to keep lookout and protect their young.

Sleeping Giraffes


The albatross is the next animal on the sleep sum spectrum, sleeping while in flight for about 42 minutes a day. Spending most of their lives flying over the ocean, albatrosses can spend up to 16 months at sea. They use a technique known as “dynamic soaring” in which they use variations in air currents and speed to maintain their flying altitude with minimal energy. They even obtain deep REM sleep along with its characteristic relaxed muscle tone similar to humans.

Sleeping Albatrosses


Perhaps the expression “sleeping with one eye open” was inspired by dolphins? Dolphins sleep with one eye open for about 2 hours a day, allowing them to stay alert to possible threats. Their lack of gills forces them to come up to the surface for air, where they are believed to sleep either vertically or horizontally, or while swimming alongside another dolphin. Sleeping with one eye open allows them to remain watchful for potential predators while also resting the opposite side of the brain to monitor their oxygen intake. After resting one side of the brain the intelligent creatures switch the eye that is open to rest the other side of the brain.

Sleeping Dolphins


While it might be easy to assume that these large mammals need more sleep than us, they typically sleep for about 3.9 hours a day. They spend approximately 14 hours each day lying down but less than 4 of these hours are spent asleep, about half of the amount needed by humans, on average.

Sleeping Cow


Like giraffes, goats are sociable and tend to spend their time in herds of 20 or more animals. Unlike their power-napping counterparts they need about 5 hours of sleep on average per day, with short naps throughout the day between grazing time to help their digestion. Like sleepers by nature, they awaken at even the slightest noise, which helps them to stay alert to possible harm.

Sleeping Goats


Similar to humans, chimpanzees need approximately 9 hours of sleep. Like us, they like to sleep in their own beds. However, they make their beds using twigs, leaves and other jungle debris. They usually do so high in the forest canopy to help keep them safe from animals hovering on the forest floor.


Sea Otters

If you’ve ever seen the beautiful photos of sea otters sleeping on their backs, floating in water, hand in hand, you’ve already got some insight into sea otters’ sleeping rituals. They don’t like sleeping alone so they link hands and float on their backs together for about 11 hours daily, usually in pairs or larger groups to help protect themselves from unexpected waves. They also sometimes wrap themselves in blankets of sea kelp to anchor themselves to the shore.

Sleeping Sea Otters


It will probably come as no surprise that sloths are the sleepiest animals on this list, sleeping for about 10 to 15 hours a day, between periods of slow activity. Sloths climb at the sluggish rate of just under 3 yards per minute. They sleep among the trees to avoid predators, sometimes hanging from branches.

Sleeping Sloths


Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include her newest book: FOOD FIX: The Most Powerful Healing Foods and How to Use Them to Overcome Disease. Follow her work.



Gabriel C
Gabriel C3 hours ago

Thank you

Leo Custer
Leo C5 hours ago

Thank you for sharing!

Mona M
Mona M13 hours ago

Thank you for not letting us remaining ignorant about our friends sleep habits.

Marta B
Marta B16 hours ago

Thanks for sharing

Mary W.
Mary Wyesterday

I thought the spider was sleeping being all scrunched up in the corner like that.

Kathy K
Kathy Kyesterday

Interesting. Thanks.

Marija M
Marija M2 days ago

tks very much for sharing this.

danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thanks for sharing.