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The Most Unusual Sleeping Habits in the Animal Kingdom

Here are the most unusual and funniest sleeping habits in the animal kingdom!

Did you know that some animals only sleep for 30 seconds at a time? Or just one half of their brain? There are even birds that sleep while flying or put their brains into standby mode.

What is the reason? The following sleeping habits sound weird, or even dangerous. However, they always serve a specific purpose. Animals are simply clever.

We take you on a journey through the slumberland of animals.



Hippos Sleep Underwater

Everyone knows that hippos like to be in the water. However, they don't go ashore to sleep, but simply sink underwater with their ton-heavy bodies. At least nobody can hear them snore down there!

Hippo Hippo - Photo: stuporter/


Manatees Sleep on their Backs

Manatees sleep underwater, too. They even turn on their backs to sleep on the seabed. Just like the hippopotamus, the manatee also needs to surface every now and then to breathe.


Manatees Manatees - Photo: Greg Amptman/Shutterstock


Sharks Are On Standby

Some sharks have to constantly keep swimming, because they don’t get any oxygen if no water flows through their gills. To make sure they get a good sleep, they reduce their brain activity. You could say that they put themselves on “standby mode”.

Shark Shark - Photo: Shane Myers Photography/Shutterstock


Dolphins Just Switch Off

If there were a “Guinness book of weird sleeping habits”, dolphins would definitely be in it. These animals sleep with one half of their brain, with the other half still switched on. After one to two hours, they switch sides and sleep with the other side. This technique would be great in school. Tip: put the left half of your brain to sleep during math as you only need the right to add up! Dolphins always keep one eye open (literally) so they can look after one another. If a dolphin forgets to breathe, it will get a little nudge from its friends.

Dolphin Dolphin - Photo: alekss-sp/Shutterstock


Orangutans Wrap Their Fingers Around Branches

Orangutans wrap their fingers and toes around branches before sleeping to avoid falling out of their nest.

Orangutan Orangutan - Photo: Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock


Koalas Hold on For Dear Life

Have you ever fallen out of bed at night? Animals don’t like that kind of surprise either, so they’ve come up with unusual tricks to avoid it. Koalas clamp themselves into a fork of a branch to prevent falling from the eucalyptus tree.

Koala Koala - Photo: Ken Griffiths/


An Okapi’s Sleep Is Short But Deep

The okapi holds a record: this forest giraffe might find a place to sleep and spend around six hours there, but it only gets 30 seconds of deep sleep. It repeats it around ten times a night.

Okapi Okapi - Photo: Miama2you/Shutterstock


Sperm Whales Sleep Upright

Unlike dolphins, sperm whales sleep with both halves of their brains. They sleep upright (!!!) in the ocean with their heads pointing upwards. They sleep so deeply that they don’t even notice boats.


Birds Cramp Up

When we humans relax, our muscles loosen and lengthen. It’s the other way around in birds. The muscles in their feet and claws tense when they relax. They can sit and sleep on an electrical cable in complete safety.


Swifts Fall Asleep Whily Flying

The swift spends almost three years in the air. They catch prey in the air, eat in the air and sleep in the air! This method is also used by some migratory birds that have to fly all day long over open water to get to their summer/winter homes. They fall asleep at the wheel, so to speak. It’s only ok for animals to do it!

Swift Swift - Photo: Drakuliren/Shutterstock


Basilisks Use a Trap

Basilisks (a lizard) climb onto the end of a branch hanging over the sea to sleep. If a predator comes close, while the basilisk is dreaming of tasty insects, the branch starts to wobble. The basilisk falls into the water and is safe from harm. And freshly showered too!

Basilisk Basilisk - Photo: Clinton Harris/


Hoofed Animals Are Too Scared to Lie Down

It might be unimaginable for us humans but many hoofed animals don’t lie down to sleep. This could be especially dangerous for prey animals like antelopes. By the time they get up, the lion has already grabbed its snack. To prevent this from happening, they gather in herds, set up sentinels, and doze off while standing. And: although adult elephants and rhinos don’t have much to fear, they can’t sleep lying down because their own weight would put too much pressure on their lungs.

All Articles About Sleep in Animals


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