Some mammals sleep for up to 22 hours per day, while others only need 3 hours of shut eye! Us humans fall somewhere in the middle at a reasonable average of 8 hours per day. So which would you rather be? A sleepy Koala bear or a more animated Giraffe?
Here’s some of the sleepiest animals that we could find (with one little myth buster included).
Hours of sleep per day: 20-22
Maybe they just enjoy it?! We certainly wouldn’t blame them! But there is a more scientific explanation. Their diet is primarily made up of Eucalyptus leaves which substantially lack nutrients. Sleeping slows down their metabolism allowing the leaves to stay in the digestive system for longer and therefore more nutrients can be absorbed. They also need to preserve the little amount of energy that they do get from their diet. What do they need energy for? Well, to eat of course!
Hours of sleep per day: 20 (in a zoo environment)
In fact, studies have shown that sloths in the wild only sleep on average 10 hours per day! They are not nearly as lazy as we used to think they were and they are actually capable of moving very quickly in a cat like manner if need be! So why the misconception? They are incredibly still for large portions of the day, but quite alert! They move so slowly (and house green algae) so that they are ‘invisible’ to Eagles. They just don’t want to be dinner!
Hours of sleep per day: 18-19
It’s very simple – they just need to preserve energy for hunts (lions are the same). Their size and speed means that they can be left exhausted after only one chase…and what’s more, they are only successful between 10 – 20% of the time! They usually sleep after eating and they don’t do it in blocks of 19 hours, unsurprisingly they have ‘catnaps’.
Hours of sleep per day: 16-17 hours
What? We had to include them, they sleep for 17 hours! They don’t hunt and they don’t eat Eucalyptus – so why do they need so much sleep? They need to grow! Growth hormones are secreted faster when they are sleeping. It also allows their brain to organise and make sense of a vast amount of new experiences and renews the chemicals in their brain and body ready for a brand new day. (Although this is true for many animals, we wanted humans to feature somewhere in the list of the sleepiest).
Hours of sleep per day: 14 hours
Hamsters sleep for this amount of time for the simple reason that it’s daylight. They don’t want to be visible to their predators, so they would burrow underground and sleep the daylight away. Then they would venture out at night to collect food. Clever and cute!