Science

The Mysterious Sleep Pattern of Elephants: They Only Sleep 2 Hours per Night

By Charles Omedo , Mar 02, 2017 03:32 AM EST
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A study published in the journal PLOS ONE and reported in Gizmodo suggests that if you need good advice on how to sleep deeper and longer per day - then an elephant is not the mammal to ask. This suggestion becomes imperative when researchers found out that elephants sleep only two hours per day - making them the shortest sleeping mammal. However, elephants in the wild sleep an average of two hours per day while those in zoos sleep an average of 4-6 hours per day.

It is injurious for humans to sleep for two hours per day

Elephants might get away with sleeping for two hours per day, but not necessarily humans. Medical experts warn that humans need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep per day/night for maximum health. Scientists say you need a good night sleep to recharge your body's strength and revitalize its functions. Good sleep durations are also needed to build memories and enjoy better health.

It is not necessarily true that you'd be dead if you slept like elephants, but researchers say better sleep reduces the risks of causing auto accidents as a driver. Better sleep also improves your emotional and psychological wellbeing, while giving you a better control on yourself during day-to-day activities. And to improve your chances of sleep tight each night, doctors advise you turn off the lights and reduce noises and keep the baby in its own cot among other suggestions.

How elephants survive on so little sleep remains a mystery

"Sleep is one of those really unusual mysteries of biology, that along with eating and reproduction, it's one of the biological imperatives," the authors of the study wrote. "We must sleep to survive." They authors were an international team of researchers from South Africa, Botswana, and the United States. They tracked the sleep pattern of two matriarch elephants in the Chobe National Park in Botswana to undertake their study, the BBC reveals.

It was necessary for the researchers to track the sleep patterns of elephants in the wild because these constantly face the threats of lions, poachers and other predators. Apart from the fact that the two elephants studied sleep an average two hours per day, they also went without sleep for nearly a week when the need for survival would not allow it. The scientists planted sleep tracker under the trunks of the elephants to measure how long their trunks laid still during sleep; and they also planted a gyroscope on them to determine whether they slept on their feet, supine to their right side or their left side.

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