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Why Do Whales Sleep Vertically? (With Video)

sperm whales sleeping vertically
Source YouTube

Have you ever wondered how whales sleep? You may be surprised that they don’t sleep like we do. They sleep vertically! But why? In this article, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of whale sleeping habits and explore the reasons behind their unique sleeping position.

Why Do Whales Sleep Vertically?

sperm whales sleeping vertically
Source YouTube

Have you ever wondered why whales sleep vertically? It may seem like an odd way to sleep, but there are a few good reasons why they do it.

Firstly, sleeping vertically allows whales to conserve energy. When they sleep horizontally, they must constantly swim to stay afloat and maintain their position in the water.

This can be tiring and requires a lot of energy. By sleeping vertically, they can rest without spending as much energy.

Another reason why whales sleep vertically is that it makes it easier for them to breathe. Whales are mammals and need to come to the surface to breathe air.

When they sleep horizontally, they must constantly swim to the surface to breathe. By sleeping vertically, they can bob up and down in the water column, taking a breath whenever needed, without swimming to the surface.

Interestingly, some species of whales, such as the sperm whale, can sleep vertically for extended periods. They can even sleep with half of their brain at a time, allowing them to rest while still being alert for any potential threats.

Do Whales Breathe When They Sleep?

A whale breathes through the blowhole on top of its head, so it needs to come up to the water’s surface to breathe.

When a whale sleeps, it stays half-conscious to sleep underwater and breathe. Unlike humans and other land mammals, whales have to think about breathing to do it. Instead of fully shutting off their brains to sleep underwater, they keep one-half active. This allows them to stay alert and breathe regularly, even when asleep.

Interestingly, sperm whales can sleep in a couple of interesting ways. They can sleep upright vertically, as we have discussed. They also keep 50% of their brain active whilst they sleep, ensuring that they are alert, aware, and ready to move if a predator moves in too close.

How Long Do Whales Sleep For?

Whales are known to be some of the largest and most intelligent creatures in the ocean, and their sleeping habits are no exception. While we know that whales need to sleep just like any other animal, the amount of time they spend sleeping is still a mystery.

While there is no exact answer to how long whales sleep for, it is estimated that they can sleep for several hours at a time. Some species, such as sperm whales, have been observed sleeping for up to 7 hours at a time while floating vertically near the surface of the water.

It is important to note that whales do not sleep continuously for hours on end. Instead, they take short naps throughout the day and night, totalling up to several hours of sleep. This is known as polyphasic sleep.

In addition to sleeping, whales also engage in other activities such as socializing, hunting, and travelling. This means that they need to find a balance between getting the rest they need and fulfilling their other needs.

Overall, while the exact amount of time whales sleep for is still unknown, it is clear that they have developed unique sleeping habits that allow them to get the rest they need while still remaining alert and aware of their surroundings.

Other Whale Sleeping Patterns

While sperm whales are known for their unique ability to sleep vertically, other whales have different sleeping patterns.

Humpback whales, for example, are known to sleep by floating on the water’s surface or just below it. They shut down half of their brain at a time, allowing them to rest while still being able to breathe and stay alert to potential dangers.

Grey whales have been observed sleeping while resting on the seabed, with their eyes open and their tail flukes moving slowly to maintain their position. This behaviour is known as “logging.”

Beluga whales, on the other hand, are known to sleep while swimming close to the surface of the water. They also shut down half of their brain at a time, but unlike humpback whales, they close their eyes while they sleep.

It’s important to note that while these sleeping patterns may seem unusual to us, they are perfectly natural for these marine mammals. Their unique adaptations allow them to rest and recharge while still being able to navigate and survive in their ocean environment.

Overall, the sleeping patterns of whales are fascinating and diverse, and further research is needed to fully understand how these creatures rest and recharge in their underwater world.