Sleeping - Like a Racehorse?
As we get ready for the Melbourne Cup tomorrow, we wonder – how do the Melbourne Cup horses actually sleep?
We are amused at the similarities and differences between how people sleep and how horses sleep. Why do we lie down in bed to sleep? Are we sleeping or napping? Does what we eat help us sleep?
Sleeping Laying Down
As humans, we prefer to lie down horizontally on a supportive mattress with a comfortable pillow to sleep. Can you imagine getting restful sleep while standing up?
Horses evolved to sleep while standing up to ensure they are able to wake and quickly flee from predators, but all horses still need to lie down to get deep-sleep. When it comes to resting, horses’ bodies are very different from our bodies. Their tendons and muscles can hold their body up without expending a lot of energy.
We need to lie down to get deep sleep. The blood and fluids in our body can flow more equally when we are in a horizontal position. The balanced fluid pressure allows our circulatory system to slow down and relax. Additionally, when we lie down and our body is well supported, our muscles are able to release and relax.
Sleeping and Napping
When horses sleep standing up, it’s similar to a human taking a nap. Though most adults need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, some of us can benefit from more sleep.
Additionally, naps are good for many types of people, not just racehorses or elite athletes. Olympic athletes often use naps to improve their performance – as few as 45 extra minutes of naptime can improve even non-athlete’s performance and alertness.
As we watch the horses getting ready for the races, maybe we will see a few of these equine-competitors taking a power-nap!
Does Eating Affect Our Sleep?
Horses eat a lot of very fibrous foods and their diet is another reason why they stand up while sleeping; standing up ensures that a horse’s slow digestive process continues during rest. Sleeping is hard work for a horse!
Eating is hard work for humans, too. How many of us get home from work late, eat and go to bed? A frequent recommendation is to finish our last exercise before dinner and to wait at least two to three hours after dinner before lying down.
If your health professional has recommended sleeping with your head slightly elevated to reduce digestive problems, like acid reflux, Bedshed has a number of high-quality, comfortable pillows and adjustable beds.
May the fastest (and best rested) horse win the Melbourne Cup!