Hit that SNOOZE button!
Are you a victim of too little sleep or do you sleep way too much? Here’s a peek into the sleeping habits of the inhabitants of the animal kingdom.
What is that one thing we all need every single day, be it the day of an exam or that of a picnic? A good night’s sleep. Imagine that feeling when you want to go bed and you can’t. You wish you were an albatross who could sleep in its flight. But most likely, you’d be carried home not flying, but drooling in your father’s arms.
We Homo sapiens, the wise wise ones, sleep for almost one-third of our lives. Scientists are still not sure why. Well, they won’t simply believe the comedian Carrie Snow who said that no day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap. Like us, all animals need their sleep and repose. While humans need both REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep, animals are not that fussy. Many of them must remain alert even while sleeping, to avoid lurking predators. Isn’t that what you do when you fall asleep in a class?
A lion can sleep for almost 20 hours a day! They seriously believe that there’s nothing to lose in the world but sleep. Well, maybe except the juicy meal of a tender deer. Unlike other animals, the kings and queens of the jungle can sleep without a worry in the world. Cats, in general, sleep for 12-16 hours a day and then take off at night to hunt.
Deep sea dreams
Leo J. Burke said, “People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” Mama dolphins can’t agree more. Dolphins and killer whales don’t sleep much, for at least three weeks after their baby is born.
Bottle-nose dolphin mums say goodbye to sleep to be with their baby and protect it from wandering free loaders trying to make a snack out of their little munchkin. Researchers, in 2007, showed that the mother and baby swim continuously for the first few weeks, catching sleep in fragments, if at all. Ask your mum and dad how much sleep they got after you came squeaking in the world and they’ll shake their heads in horror. And yes, dolphins sleep with half their brain awake!
Not a wink
Some marine mammals like common porpoises and northern fur seals and birds like chicken and Humbolt penguins can sleep with one eye open. The mallard ducks, at times, sleep in a line and only the guards — the outermost ducks — keep one eye open and half their brains alert. Recently, scientists in South Africa discovered this phenomenon in Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bats. They cover their closed eyes with their leathery wing and the other one is open, on the lookout for vervet monkeys, crowned eagles and other pesky creatures. If you can do that, you will be the world’ second non-marine mammal to sleep with an eye open.
While bats sleep upside down, sun birds might puff up their chests while sleeping to make them seem bigger than they are.
What lengths we go to get a good sleep. I can’t agree more to what this wise soul says – Sleep ’til you’re hungry, eat ’til you’re sleepy. It pretty much sums up the simple funda of life.
We’ll check out more snoozing secrets in the next part of this article. Till then, let the sleeping dogs lie.