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Power Nappers


How do you sleep? Maybe you cuddle up with a favorite blanket. You probably go to sleep in the evening and wake up in the morning. That’s how most people sleep.

Animals sleep, too. But they don’t all sleep the same way. Some spend much more time asleep than we do. Some spend much less. Some animals sleep while they’re standing or moving.

A study was published in November in the journal Science. It found that chinstrap penguins have one of the most unusual sleep styles in the animal kingdom. Instead of one long sleep, the penguins take thousands of micro-naps every day. Each is only a few seconds long. So a penguin’s nap lasts only as long as it took you to read this sentence.

Penguin Protection

King George Island is about 75 miles off the coast of Antarctica. French scientist Paul-Antoine Libourel visited there in 2019. He wanted to research the way chinstrap penguins sleep.

BREEDING GROUND Chinstrap penguins live in Antarctica. Some travel north to King George Island to breed.


Each November, many chinstraps gather on King George Island to breed. The males use stones to build nests. The females lay eggs in the nests. Then both parents take turns protecting the nest and hunting for fish.

Libourel and his team set out to learn how penguins sleep in such intense conditions. “The animals have to protect their eggs,” he told TIME for Kids. “But they also have to sleep. So the question is, ‘How do they sleep when they are facing such a big challenge?’”

STANDING GUARD To protect their eggs from predators, chinstrap penguins must stay alert.


Libourel’s team fitted 14 penguins with devices. The devices tracked their brain activity for about 11 days. Researchers could see when the birds were sleeping.

What the scientists found was surprising: The penguins took up to 10,000 naps every day. The naps lasted four seconds, on average. But together, they added up to more than 11 hours of daily sleep. The scientists think that by resting in short bursts, the penguins can watch for predators predator an animal that kills and eats other animals to survive (noun) Other animals scatter when a predator, such as a lion, arrives. .

New Way To Learn

Humans and other animals sometimes nod off to sleep for a few seconds. But this only happens occasionally. Scientists were surprised that penguins spent so much time in a drowsy drowsy sleepy (adjective) The puppy was still drowsy after a long afternoon nap. state.

BALANCING ACT Chinstrap penguins balance taking time to rest with staying alert to protect their nests.


The findings show how important it is to study how wild animals sleep. Vladyslav Vyazovskiy studies sleep at the University of Oxford, in England. He says that until recently, scientists mainly studied sleep in a lab. But with technology like the trackers used on the penguins, we can learn how animals sleep in their natural habitats.

“Going out there in the world, where animals have to balance their need to sleep with other challenges—that is very important,” Vyazovskiy told TIME for Kids. “That can help us try to understand: ‘What is sleep really about?’”

How Do They Sleep?


Penguins aren’t the only animals with notable sleep styles. Bottlenose dolphins shut down one side of the brain when they sleep. The other side stays awake to watch for predators. African elephants sleep less than any other mammal. They rest for only two hours each day, mainly at night. And otters (left) hold hands while sleeping. Sometimes, they do this in large groups. Then they don’t float away from one another while they snooze.