It has more than 600 microsleep phases per hour. It reaches more than 10,000 per day. When breeding in a dangerous environment, these chinstrap penguins sleep for more than four seconds at a time. But thanks to microsleep, the penguin that sleeps twelve hours a day manages to rest.
Animals sleep alternately with both hemispheres of the brain and with the whole brain. By fragmenting their sleep, animals can successfully reproduce in difficult ecological conditions. This is demonstrated by a new study. It is detailed in the article, according to a statement from the Max Planck Institute.
While incubating eggs, chinstrap penguins accumulate thousands of second-long microsleeps. Despite sleeping in this unusual way, the penguins were able to successfully raise their young. This suggests that the restorative functions of sleep can be achieved through microsleeping. This is an unprecedented sleeping pattern. It is an adaptation to the constant presence of subantarctic skuas (an egg predator).
The researchers used brain activity recording technology. Penguins were recorded for eleven days, on land and in the sea, diving to a depth of 200 meters. The researchers examined nesting at the edge of the colony. There the penguins are exposed to the skuas. He compared this to the hustle and bustle of the center of the colony, it affected his sleep. Episodes of all types of slow-wave sleep were extremely short, generally lasting only a few seconds. Even when consecutive episodes of different types of sleep were combined, the vast majority lasted less than five seconds.
This sleep fragmentation manifests itself as frequent closing and opening of one or both eyes. Despite participating in short bouts, each brain hemisphere got 11.5 to 12 hours of slow-wave sleep per day. They were distributed evenly throughout the 24 hours of the day, with more than 500 episodes per hour. The penguin that sleeps twelve hours a day manages to reproduce despite the difficulties. But don’t try to imitate his sleep strategy.