Researchers unveil the sleeping habits of elephants. Two elephants in Botswana were monitored to reveal more about their natural sleep patterns. Usually, elephants in zoos sleep between six and four hours per day. Nevertheless, in their natural habitats, they tend to rest for just two hours, during the night time. Elephants, especially those who were herd leaders, stayed awake for days on end.
- Specialists monitored two elephants to track their sleeping habits.
- They revealed that elephants could walk for days without sleeping.
- They usually sleep once every three days.
They never rested during those days, traveling long distances. They might have walked away for days in a row to escape poachers or lions. These elephants reached to be in REM only once in four days when they lied down to sleep. Prof Paul Manger of the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, claimed that they revealed the unique sleeping habits of elephants.
He also argued that elephants are the only mammals which sleep for such short hours. They get a few hours of sleep only once every three or four days. If we were to think of elephants’ memory, then we may infer that their REM sleep could be associated with memory consolidation. Elephants which live in captivity were examined by specialists.
Prof Manger together with his team of researchers installed some devices equivalent of fitness trackers, positioning them under the skin of their trunks to reveal more about their sleeping habits in the wild. The device managed to register when the elephants were sleeping based on the movement of their trunks. If their trunks remained still for five or more minutes, then they have been falling asleep.
The two elephants which were analyzed were also fitted with a gyroscope to establish their sleeping position. Scientists have monitored both elephants for about five weeks. Prof Manger stated that they assumed that elephants had the shortest sleeping periods from all mammals because they are the biggest ones.
They noted that they are not sure why these animals have these sleep patterns. Sleep is known to be one of the largest mysteries of biology, together with reproduction and eating. We know that it represents one of the biological imperatives because we need to sleep to survive. Usually, if we were to look at their size, bigger animals sleep longer hours than small ones. For example, sloths sleep for 14 hours per day, while humans for eight hours per day.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia