How Long Do Horses Sleep?

Have you ever wondered how long do horses sleep? We all love to get a good 8 hours of sleep at night, but horses have a very different sleep pattern to humans!

Rather than having one long period of rest, horses sleep in short bursts throughout the day and night. They need a minimum of 3 to 5 hours of sleep every day, but many horses will sleep for longer than this.

Let’s take a look at how horses sleep, so we can make sure they are getting enough of the right kind of sleep.

How Do Horses Sleep?

Horses are famous for their ability to sleep standing up. They can catch a quick nap without laying down, thanks to their incredible ability to ‘lock’ their legs into a standing position.

The type of sleep horses gets while standing is called ‘slow-wave sleep’ (SWS), a shallow sleep from which the horse can quickly awaken.

However, SWS is not enough to fulfill the horse’s rest requirements. The horse also needs a short period of ‘rapid eye movement’ (REM) sleep each day. This is a period of deep sleep that can only be achieved if the horse is lying down.

How Long Do Horses Sleep?

The horse’s daily sleep is a minimum of 3 to 5 hours per day, although most horses sleep for much longer than this.

Most of the time horses are asleep they will be standing. They require a minimum of just 30 minutes of REM sleep each day.

Horses will mainly sleep between the hours of 8 pm to 5 am. The majority of the SWS and REM sleep occurs in the middle of the night, between 12 am and 4 am.

During the day, horses will take much shorter naps, sometimes for just a few minutes at a time.

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Why Do Horses Need To Sleep?

Like any mammal, horses need to sleep to allow the body and mind to recharge. If the horse does not get enough sleep, or does not feel safe enough to lie down for REM sleep, then sleep deprivation can occur.

Sleep deprivation can lead to the horse dropping into a deep sleep while standing – in severe cases, the horse may stumble, collapse or fall over.

How Can We Make Sure Horses Get Enough Sleep?

Horses are prey animals, so they are always on guard against predators. Your horse will only sleep when he feels it is safe to do so – you never know when a lion might be lurking around the corner!

Make sure your horse feels safe enough to sleep by providing a calm, quiet and secure environment. Horses thrive on routine and security and will appreciate a dark, quiet barn or paddock to sleep in at night.

How Can We Make Sure Horses Get Enough Sleep

In the wild, horses guard each other in the herd while they sleep. If your horse shares a field with friends, you might observe them laying down for a nap, particularly on warmer days.

Summary

Horses require very little sleep compared to humans and can survive on just 3 to 5 hours of sleep per day. Our domesticated horses will most likely sleep for much longer, as they do not have to spend so much time foraging for food.

If you are worried your horse might not be getting enough sleep, take a look at their accommodation and see if you can figure out the reason why. Your horse needs to feel comfortable and secure to be able to get the best possible sleep.

Do you have any questions about how horses sleep? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you! 

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