As humans, we all need to perform certain activities in order to survive. One of those activities is sleeping (I know I love my sleep!). But what about sloths? Do sloths need sleep like humans do? What are sloth sleeping habits? There is sometimes an assumption that sloths lie around and sleep most of their days away, but is this actually true?
In this article, I will answer these questions for you by discussing sleep that humans require in order to survive, comparing that to how much sleep sloths get, and then making sleep comparisons with other animals. At the end of it all, I hope to have provided you with some interesting information that we can all learn something from.
How Much Zzzzs Do We Need?
I don’t know about you, but I feel energized, well-rested, and relatively alert if I am able to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. I also love naps – unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity to take many of those. What do the experts have to say about sleep requirements for humans? Let’s take a look at some information that I found:
- According to National Sleep Foundation, “…healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.”
- According to HelpGuide, “Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to function well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.”
It doesn’t take much to encourage me to get more sleep! On a more serious note, though, so many people do not get enough sleep, which can cause a number of health issues as a result. Let’s now take a look at how much sleep sloths get.
How Much Time Do Sloths Spend Sleeping?
A number of people assume that sloths are lazy and spend most of their time sleeping. First of all, sloths are most definitely not lazy. Instead, they have evolved and choose to move slowly, with purpose, for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons include low caloric intake and slow metabolism, habitat, evolution, and survival. For more information about this, check out my article titled, “Why Do Sloths Move Slowly? It’s About Survival“.
Next, let’s take a look at how much sleep sloths actually do get. According to World Animal Protection, “The sleeping pattern of a modern day sloth is dependent on its habitat, with sloths in captivity sleeping up to 15-20 hours a day whilst sloths in the wild sleep as much as humans, at around 8-9 hours a day.”
The Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, which is in Germany, did a study that monitored the sleep of sloths. Regarding this study, lead researcher Niels Rattenborg told BBC News that, “The real exciting finding was that they only slept 9.6 hours a day, which is much less than what people popularly believed and less than had been observed in a previous study of sloths in captivity”. More information about this study can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7396356.stm.
LiveScience states that, “Sloths prefer sleeping while curled into a ball in the fork of a tropical tree. They also like to sleep hanging by their claws from tree branches.” Sloths have a biological makeup that enables them to spend most of their lives hanging upside down, which they do. And they do more than just sleep upside down – they eat upside down, they mate upside down, and they will give birth upside down, too!
Check out this video of a sleeping sloth (how cute is this!). It was posted on April 3, 2020 by Fresh Notes. Enjoy!
How Much Sleep Do Some Other Animals Get?
For comparison purposes, let’s take a look at how much sleep some other animals get (I would do quite well in this category!).
- Brown Bat: this particular animal can sleep over 19 hours per day.
- Giant Armadillo: 18 hours of sleep per day can be accomplished by this animal.
- North American Opossum: 18 hours of sleep per day can be done by this particular animal.
- Python: 18 hours per day sleeping leaves a few hours of slithering time for this snake.
- Owl Monkey: 17 hours of sleep per day is possible for this animal.
According to World Wildlife Fund, “Koalas can sleep up to 18 hours a day”.
Which Animals Get Very Little Sleep?
For some more comparisons, let’s present a list of animals at the other end of the sleep spectrum – the spectrum where very little sleep happens for them. This list presents some of the animals that get the least amount of sleep in the animal kingdom (this is not a category that I would do well in!).
- Alpine swifts
- Orca calves
While not always the case, there are a number of these animals that get very little sleep as a result of being “on guard”, as their predators would be able to attack them more easily while they are asleep.
To Sleep Or Not To Sleep
In this article, I discussed one of my favorite activities…..sleeping! I discussed a bit about how much sleep humans need, I compared that to sloth sleeping habits, and I made some sleep comparisons with other animals. While sleep is so vitally important for humans, I was quite surprised to learn that some animals get very little sleep (I was also surprised that some animals get so much sleep…..over 19 hours per day?) Wow! What may surprise some people, though, is the fact that sloths are not lazy and do not get nearly as much sleep as a number of people assumed (at least not in the wild).
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have any comments or questions that you would like to share, please feel free to do so below and I will be sure to reply.