How Many Naps a Day?!
Except for a possible afternoon nap, most people get all their sleep overnight. But chinstrap penguins get their rest in a very different way. Scientists say these birds take more than 10,000 naps a day!
Scientists learned about this surprising sleep pattern by studying a group of chinstrap penguins in Antarctica. In addition to filming the birds, scientists placed devices in the neck and brain muscles of 14 penguins so they could record any brain activity related to sleep. They found that the penguins took 10,000 very short sleeping periods called microsleeps. Each little nap was only four seconds long! But all that dozing adds up—chinstrap penguins end up getting 11 hours of sleep every day.
This sleeping pattern may seem odd, but scientists say it probably helps the penguins survive. Chinstrap penguin eggs and chicks are often hunted by other bird species. When one penguin parent leaves the nest for days to do some hunting over the ocean, the other parent must guard the eggs or chicks alone. It wouldn’t be very safe for a protective penguin parent to relax into a long snooze.