Remember those all-nighters you used to pull in college just to get a passing grade in an exam? If you think that you’re the undisputed champion of burning the midnight oil, then you might want to reconsider. Recent research proved that the African elephant is the most insomniac animal on the planet, sleeping only for two hours each night.
Ever since we were in kindergarten, we were thought about the importance of having a good night’s sleep. We even have some pretty neat saying about the importance of sleep such as “don’t know the solution to a problem? Then sleep on it” or “a good night’s sleep cures everything, even an aching heart.”
Researchers believe that sleep, especially REM (rapid eye movement) sleep plays an important role in brain rejuvenation and memory consolidation. It’s a proven fact that without sleep, we cannot survive.
Although we seem to know a lot about the importance of sleep, the actual meaning of the action eludes us to this day. In addition, we can’t seem to wrap our heads around why some animals need more or less sleep than others.
After observing a pack of female African elephants for a month, a team of researchers concluded that even though elephants can go without sleep for more than two days and that they are often seen traversing vast distances, they only need two hours of sleep per night to replenish their strength.
The researchers were able to make these observations after outfitting the elephants with a GPS collar and implanting an actiwatch (very similar to a Fitbit). Using these devices, the researchers were able to tell how much distance the African elephants can cover before hitting the sack, and what happens when they decide to go to sleep.
They’ve concluded that African elephants are what we call polyphasic sleepers, which means that they need only a few short naps each night. Curiously enough, the pachyderms need only two hours of sleep before going about with their business. In addition, it appears that there is a significant gap between napping intervals. The scientists noted that the African elephants rarely entered the REM sleep stage.
How is this discovery significant? As mentioned before, REM sleep is believed to be involved in the process of memory consolidation. The fact that African elephants are the kings of insomniacs kind of puts a dent in the whole memory consolidation theory.
Image source: Pixabay