How Do Giraffes Sleep?

By Chris Deziel
A group of giraffes in the wild.

Like all animals, giraffes prefer to sleep lying down. Unfortunately, their long necks make it awkward for them to do so, and that makes them vulnerable to predators. The towering herbivores, which can grow to a height of six meters (20 feet), compensate by sometimes sleeping in a standing position.

Frequent Short Naps

People used to believe that giraffes never sleep; this was disproven by researchers in the 1950s. They found that giraffes sleep both lying on the ground and standing. They sleep for short periods that last from two and a half to six minutes, and they get a total of about four and a half hours of sleep in every 24-hour period. When a giraffe lies down, it rests its head on its hindquarters, much like a dog or cat does; its neck makes a long arc that extends over its body. It can also sleep in a reclining position with its neck straight and its head up.

About the Author

A love of fundamental mysteries led Chris Deziel to obtain a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. A prolific carpenter, home renovator and furniture restorer, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.