Penguin Snoozing 101: How Do Penguins Sleep?

how do penguins sleep

The penguin has an unusual sleeping pattern, taking short naps both day and night. They can sleep standing up, and some can sleep in quick naps in the water.

Like birds, others sleep with their bills tucked under their wings. The penguin certainly doesn’t sleep like we do, as they can’t fall asleep deeply.

They need to remain vigilant to avoid predators and appear to sleep with one eye open in short naps.

Sometimes sleep only lasts for minutes, and we need to find out more about how do penguins sleep?

How Do Penguins Sleep?

Scientists studying the penguins have only observed them sleeping on land. However, as they are often at sea for long periods, scientists believe that they must have some sleep in the ocean.

When they finish eating for the day, toward night seems to be when the penguin takes a nap.

Being part of the colony or group gives them protection to doze off for a short time, taking short naps during the day.

Many species appear to doze in this manner while standing up. The penguin colony is called a rookery and when you look closely at them grouped there, many appear to be dozing.

In Antarctica, it would be much too cold to lie on the ground, leaving the Emperor penguin with nowhere else to sleep but standing up.

The fairy penguin lives in burrows or large cracks in the ground, and this small species does appear to sleep, When in the burrow where it also nests, it is safe from predators.

Every night at dusk it returns to its burrow to sleep, free from fear of dogs, cats, and foxes.

Do Penguins Sleep Underwater?

No, penguins have lungs and breathe oxygen from the air, so sleeping underwater would not be possible.

Penguins are good swimmers and their survival depends on it as they feed while swimming. This is an interesting fact as they spend half their time on land, all penguins hunt for food in the ocean, and they don’t feed or hunt while on land.

While swimming they can eat anything from tiny krill to large squid and fish.

The penguin has a thick layer of insulating feathers, (like a wet suit), that keeps them warm in the water and prevents heat loss, and the larger penguins can control blood flow to their extremities which explains why penguins swim in the cold water of Antarctica.

When they are on land, the males are seen huddling together to keep warm, while the female is fishing for food in the ocean.

How Long Do Penguins Sleep?

As well as standing penguins can also be found in a variety of positions when sleeping on land. According to studies, sleep may last only for one or two minutes, depending on where they are at the time.

However, many larger species of penguins manage to take short naps, often for around 10 minutes each time throughout the day to keep their batteries recharged.

In the Galapagos, the penguins protect their chicks from the hot sun by moving them into crevices in the rocks, safe from the harm they can doze in the warmth of the day.

Food sources are unpredictable on the islands and the Galapagos penguins are at threat of extinction and only about 1800 remain on the islands.

They sometimes shelter and breed in caves found in the location, enabling better opportunities for sleep.

Do Penguins Lay Down To Sleep?

Penguins do not normally lie down to sleep, they often sleep standing up and when they are in their family colonies they tend to feel safer and warmer.

This enables them to doze off for a short period, and several short naps seem to be enough for them.

Although the penguin has been seen lying down on its stomach resting, this is not usual and they mostly nap while standing up or under the ground in their burrows where they are safe.

Penguins In Antarctica During Summer?

The penguin is a bird, and some birds sleep standing up. Most birds are not nocturnal but will avoid predators by going to sleep when dusk falls and waking up at first light.

However, some penguins remain in the water as they can move fast there, and will usually avoid predators.

This happens largely in the Antarctic Summer when it is daylight twenty-four hours a day, and there is no night for the penguins.

This must be confusing, as they are forced to nap when they can until winter comes around again.

Penguins in Antarctica nap by sleeping in their huddles and simply closing their eyes and getting some shut-eye often for only around 10 minutes per time.

The Galapagos Penguin

This penguin is a bit different from the others and has developed techniques to stay cool, and to do this it inhabits the caves and crevices of the island giving it more opportunities to sleep in the heat of the day.

The chicks develop gray, blue plumage within 30 days of hatching, and this protects them from the strong rays of the sun.

The Galapagos penguins return to the land at night, only traveling a few kilometers from their breeding sites to feed in the Cromwell Current.

They live on several different islands including Santa Cruz and Floreana, that cross the equator. These are the only penguins found in the Northern Hemisphere, except in zoos.

Final Thoughts

So, how do penguins sleep? Larger species sometimes lie on their bellies to sleep. While the smaller spaces may penguins may burrow into the sandy earth to sleep safely in their colony or group.

We can only conclude how do penguins sleep, by stating that sleep is not essential to the penguin. But they take the opportunity to sleep where and when they can.

They can’t breathe underwater, so require some time on land napping and resting in their colony.

There are 18 different species and all are slightly different in the way they live and breed.

According to scientists we still have a lot more to learn about the penguin and their way of life, as well as their sleeping patterns.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you have found it useful, feel free to stick around to learn more about penguins and other marine life.