MAR 03, 2017 8:41 AM PST

How do elephants sleep?


Scientists have recently discovered new knowledge on how elephants sleep. Although elephants in zoos sleep an average of about 6 hours a day, in the wild they may only sleep 2 hours a day, usually during the nighttime. For this study, the research team tracked two elephants in Botswana and fitted them with fitness trackers under the skin of the animals' trunks. If the elephants stayed still for more than five minutes, the device would record that the elephants were sleeping. The two elephants were also fitted with a gyroscope to assess their sleeping position.

The team determined that both matriarchs in the study sometimes stayed awake for several days without sleeping. Usually during this time, they were traveling and only went into rapid eye movement (REM) every three or four days, when they slept lying down rather than on their feet.

Professor Paul Manger of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa said, "We had the idea that elephants should be the shortest sleeping mammal because they're the largest. Why this occurs, we're not really sure. Sleep is one of those really unusual mysteries of biology, that along with eating and reproduction, it's one of the biological imperatives. We must sleep to survive."
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Carbon Nanolattices: Lighter Than (Atomic) Feathers, Tougher Than Diamonds
JUL 02, 2020
Carbon Nanolattices: Lighter Than (Atomic) Feathers, Tougher Than Diamonds
Carbon is known for its plentiful allotropes, such as the naturally existing graphite and diamond, as well as synthetic ...
AUG 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
AUG 27, 2020
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
A new study reports that polar bear populations could collapse in the next 80 years if greenhouse gas emissions remain a ...
SEP 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
SEP 08, 2020
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
The Chinese government has announced the safe return of a reusable spacecraft, called Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi ...
SEP 25, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Colossal Study for the Missing (Anti)Matter
SEP 25, 2020
Colossal Study for the Missing (Anti)Matter
Physicists believe that our observable universe exists in a mirrored configuration: any fundamental particle such as pro ...
OCT 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
The Closest Black Hole to Earth Isn't a Black Hole After All
OCT 24, 2020
The Closest Black Hole to Earth Isn't a Black Hole After All
Earlier this year, astronomers reportedly identified the 'closest black hole to Earth every discovered'. However ...
NOV 12, 2020
Health & Medicine
Measles Cases and Deaths Surge Worldwide
NOV 12, 2020
Measles Cases and Deaths Surge Worldwide
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a stat ...
Loading Comments...