Do Snakes Sleep?

Discussion in 'General Snakes' started by Karlee, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Karlee

    Karlee Member

    I was watching Kamau when I thought of what he dreamed of. But I quickly came to a different question, do snakes even sleep? They dont have eye lids and dont show as much brain activity as people do I know for a fact, but I am just curious of they do sleep. I know this is a random question, but I have this personality where I HAVE to know every thing or else I might as well jump off a cliff. If any one knows, I would really appreciaite it:D.
  2. ajlista

    ajlista Well-Known Member

    I do believe snakes sleep, if im not wrong i think all animals sleep, just like you said, you cant tell for they have no eyelids, lol
    But if you think about it, you never know when they are sleeping or not
  3. Karlee

    Karlee Member

    True, I guess it just havent been studied enough... I thought they sleep because I have seen Kamau yawn (or I think he was yawning), I guess until it has been studied enough we cant tell for sure.

    JEFFREH Administrator Staff Member

    You do not have to have your eyes closed to be asleep, here is a quick definition of sleep:
    "Sleep: A condition of body and mind such as that which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive."

    Every animal must have a period of inactivity in which at least some parts of the brain shut down to recharge.

    Some may speculate that animals with no eyelids do not sleep, and therefore stay ever vigilent. This isn't necessarily true - one could argue a variety of other factors for the lack of eyelids that would be beneficial to the animal. In addition, no one says that sleep means the entire brain must be at a state of rest; perhaps these animals have the ability to shut down half their brain, or the majority of their association areas but are capable of keeping certain primary sensory areas at least somewhat stimulated so they can respond to a stimulus rapidly.

    My crested geckos for example, have no eyelids. I've had geckos who are very timid show no fear during the day despite my hand being right in front of them... clearly they must be sleeping. Besides, I've seen plenty of humans sleep with their eyes open - if the body inactivates a part of the brain there is absolutely 0 need for eyelids.
  5. Karlee

    Karlee Member

    Thanks, that answer helped. I was just researching it and I found out that they close their pupils tightly when sleeping, leaving them to detect movement in their sleep. I still think this needs to be researched on a bit more throughly though. Now this leads me to the question do sharks sleep... I wont ask that here though cause I have a cousin who is an EXPERT (she became a marine biologist at the Georgia Aquarium because of sharks).

    JEFFREH Administrator Staff Member

    I think the definition of sleep needs to be established first - remember that not everything sleeps like us, and vision isn't the only sense to account for in sleep. It is obvious when a cat or dog is asleep because they too sleep with their eyes closed and are capable of entering REM. But other animals aren't so obvious, or may not enter as deep of sleep at any time. There are obvious distinctions in any animal between a time of high activity and obvious mental and physical inactivty.

    I can't help but speculate that 'sleep' for other animals can vary, but regardless a state of lowered psychological activity and muscle tone must be accomplished to survive. This may be for rejuvenation, homeostasis, or I believe there is some speculation that it has to do with memory...I don't think anyone really knows exactly why we sleep. For sharks and marine animals, this may be tricky, because they must keep a constant flow of water across their gills to breathe. But I'd wager they are capable of going into semi-dormant states where parts of the brain drastically reduce in activity. Sleep doesn't necessarily mean that you lose all consciousness, an example:

    When we sleep, we have lowered reflexes and ability to respond to stimulus. While the parts of the brain that are involved with this are suppressed or partly inactive, a large enough stimulus can awaken us and bring us back to an active state. For example: You watch TV on low volume, you can still hear it. You play this low volume in the same room as someone who is asleep, they may not hear it...but if you bang a drum in the room they are bound to awaken. The auditory areas of the brain are not shut down entirely, rather, they are lowered. The same may be true for snakes. It is a hard concept to grasp, but I don't think sleep means you must be shrouded in darkness - it is possible to shut down parts of the brain without affecting the visual areas.

    Just as with sharks having to move around to breathe, one may wonder why it is that a bat can hang upside down and still sleep. This involves voluntary muscle control... These animals are probably capable of keeping certain areas of the brain active, perhaps moreso than humans, but are still capable of sleeping. Perhaps they can alternate portions of the brain that are at rest, or switch gears entirely and allow a portion such as the brainstem to take over of some basic activities. Our brain stem controls very important involuntary actions like breathing and heartbeat that must be at least partially stimulated at all times to live. Likewise, areas like our hypothalmaus are still active at night to control the relsease of certain hormones. But our primary and associated cortex's are certainly inhibited... Maybe with other animals these aren't quite as drastically inhibited.
  7. Shanna66

    Shanna66 Well-Known Member

    after a while of observing snakes you learn to make a good guess when they are sleeping or just chilling in their hides. if your snake is just sitting there and when you pick it up it all of a sudden freaks out, it may have been sleeping. i "accidently" wake up my little milk snake like this every few weeks. he freaks out then after a moment he smells me and is fine
  8. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    Just to add a few quick little bits of information: I'm pretty sure it's been confirmed that while reptiles do enter into a restful "sleeping" period, their brain does not enter the REM stage of sleep, which is when dreams occur (at least in humans and most likely other mammals). So, it's assumed that while they do sleep, they don't dream.
    Also, there is some arctic tern...or something like that, I'm not sure...but anyways, it can literally sleep while flying by shutting down only half of the brain at a time. Maybe sharks do something similar? That's just speculation, but yeah...just thought it was interesting regardless.
  9. dogking

    dogking HOTM Winner September

    sharks have to swim while they sleep or the water won't flow through their gills so it is possible to have something sleeping with only a part of its brain.
  10. Karlee

    Karlee Member

    Actually, most sharks can stop moving to sleep. To name a few reef sharks, thresher sharks, nurse sharks, lemon sharks, etc. Salmon sharks, great whites, and mako sharks are the only species I know of that doesnt have the special muscles that allows them to force water through their gills.

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