Today it's time to reveal one of the sleep curiosities most people ask about: how do horses sleep? One of the things that surprises people the most is the sleeping habits of these large animals.
Unlike other common animals, horses have unique sleep patterns. The resting habits of horses are a consequence of their evolution. And it is that they are animals that, in their natural environment, must be constantly vigilant to protect themselves and their groups. The sleeping style of horses is therefore fascinating to say the least.
How do horses sleep?
The short answer is: they sleep in lying down and standing up. A longer answer has nuances. And a lot of meaning.
One of the characteristics of horse sleep is that they have need very little deep sleep , which is very different from humans. When horses sleep in the REM state, they can be seen moving their legs while lying on the ground on their side. When the horse involuntarily shakes its legs, we can also guess that it is dreaming.
But horses don't need to lie down to sleep, they can also sleep standing up , well supported on their legs, in the light sleep phase. The period of deep sleep lasts only a few minutes. But we distinguish that they sleep because they also move their hind legs involuntarily.
The reason they sleep standing up has to do with their physiology. Horses are very large animals, and lying on one side to rest can press and constrict certain blood vessels long enough to create terrible pressure on some of their vital organs.
For this reason, the natural physiology of horses has developed a habit that protects them. They can sleep soundly on the floor lying down for a few minutes, or sleep standing up in order to avoid risks.
Additionally, horses are very social animals that go out of their way for their litters and groups. And it also shows in their sleeping habits. Thus, it is common to see them in groups sleeping alternately, some specimens sleeping while others are active. The purpose of this behavior model is to allocate rest time . Thus, those who are awake are alert, aware of the environment around them.
Do horses dream?
Horses, like humans, also dream. And this is known because they reproduce each of the phases of sleep that we recognize in humans. Thus, it was found that the dream of horses goes through 4 phases , the same number as those of persons.
The first phase is the standby phase during which you perform all conscious activities.
The second phase is that of the sleepiness which takes most of the time. In this case, the eyes are closed, the ears are visible mush, and the body is resting on one of the hind legs. To avoid any accidental fall, the knees are blocked.
Phase three is called slow sleep waves. Electroencephalograms performed on study horses have shown that this phase is that of a first true sleep pattern. Brain waves slow down and their passing patterns are regular. The lace of their leg bones keeps them balanced also without conscious control.
The fourth stage is REM sleep. In it, the horse can stand up or lie down leaning on its sternum and with its legs bent. In some cases, the animal has enough space to stretch as long as it is. In this phase, the respiratory rate decreases and the heart rate increases. It is in this phase that horses typically kick in the air, involuntarily move their eyes, change the grimaces of their muzzles, and extend and contract their limbs in various directions. Throughout sleep, approximately nine REM phase periods occur with a duration of only five minutes each.
When they shiver and neigh in their sleep, they seem to be reliving scenes they are dreaming of at that moment.
How many hours does a horse sleep?
Horses are known to sleep little. And it is that they only sleepabout 3 hours spread over different periods in 24 hours . Sleep periods can only reach a few minutes at a time, although younger foals tend to sleep more than adults.
So how do horses sleep? The horses sleep and rest very well. They sleep soundly for very short periods and prefer to do so standing up. A physiological behavior at the height of the originality of a very appreciated and loved animal.