How do dolphins sleep. If dolphins need air to breathe then how do they sleep underwater?

Matthew Brown Matthew Brown Jun 14, 2020 · 1 min read
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Dolphins are well-known for their intelligence, remarkable communication skills, and playful nature. They are also unique creatures when it comes to sleep. As mammalian animals, dolphins require air to breathe. So, the question arises - how do they sleep underwater? Unlike humans, dolphins are able to use one half of their brain at a time, which allows them to alternate between being awake and asleep.

Dolphins usually sleep for a few hours a day, but they do not sleep in long, uninterrupted chunks like humans. Instead, dolphins sleep in short bursts, typically lasting only a few minutes at a time. Even while sleeping, dolphins remain alert to their surroundings, with one half of their brain awake and monitoring for predators or other potential threats.

So, how do dolphins sleep without drowning? As air-breathing mammals, dolphins need to surface to breathe. When they sleep, only one brain hemisphere is asleep while the other stays awake to monitor their surroundings and control breathing. The awake hemisphere controls the dolphin’s sleeping patterns, allowing it to surface for air whenever it’s necessary, then return to sleep.

This type of sleep is referred to as unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (USWS). It is a unique form of sleep that, in addition to dolphins, is also found in other marine mammals like whales, seals, and sea otters. In USWS, one hemisphere of the brain remains awake to ensure the animal remains conscious enough to surface for air even while sleeping.

Scientists have observed that dolphins often sleep while swimming near the surface of the water or while swimming in a group with another dolphin keeping watch. This sleep-swimming behavior allows them to breathe easily while still remaining safe from potential predators.

In conclusion, dolphins have a unique sleep pattern that allows them to remain alert to their surroundings while also getting the rest they need. With their remarkable ability to sleep while swimming, these intelligent creatures continue to fascinate scientists and marine enthusiasts alike.

Matthew Brown
Written by Matthew Brown
Living life to the fullest, one adventure at a time.