Animal facts

Do zebras sleep standing up?

Do zebras sleep standing up

Zebras are animals that children love to talk about, and they are considered to be very familiar in the human environment as a result of the stripes on their body which is used as a road sign in the human world; the zebra crossing.  In this article, we will be responding to the question in the title of our article today, which is “do zebras sleep standing up?”

First, do zebras sleep? Well like every living organism including slugs who do not get enough sleep, Zebras sleep. Do Zebras stand up? I bet you know the answer to that already. Yes, Zebras stand.

Do Zebras then sleep while standing up? Well they do sleep while standing, but on the other hand, it may seem that they do not, but we will find out soon.

However, before we proceed to responding to this, or to tackling this question squarely, it is important to mention a few basic features of the Zebra. The species of Zebra belong to the mammalia class, in the order of perissodactyla, then it belongs to the family of Equidae, and finally the Kingdom of Animalia. The Zebra is mostly identified by its white and black stripe, and more so there are basically three types or species of the Zebra. These three species of the zebra include the following:

The Plains Zebra which is also identified as the Equagga, the Grévy zebra  which also known as the Equus grevyi, and then the mountain zebra which is also known as the E. zebra.

How do Zebras Sleep?

The sleeping posture of the zebra will in this section be unveiled, after which the big question this article seeks to answer will be responded to. First, zebras like to migrate to areas where they find better waters, this however results in their constant migration, and when they find a better water, they tarry there and are not in a hurry to leave, apart from the mountain Zebra that inhabits in elevations and mountains from which the specie derives its name.

Another fascinating thing about the zebra is that the various species of zebra during migration lean on the memory of places they have been before, and predict the conditions of that forage for the coming months and brace up for the weather and the environment when they get there.

Flies and often try to pester the creature, so the various species of zebra, more often than not, continuously rub their bodies against the trees, the rocks, and the other objects in the environment where they inhabit, and so the zebras roll around the surfaces of dust to obtain protection from flies and other irritation that occur in the body of the zebra, the species of zebra also have the ability to completely roll over or turn its body on the other side.

However, the case is different with the mountain zebra, as the mountain zebra is without the ability to turn over on the other side, or to completely roll over.

Now based to answer the question in this section, by observation, zoologists have observed that the various species of Zebra can sleep for as long as seven hours in one day. More so, as the various species of zebras sleep while standing up, these species of zebra like the various species of other animals also sleep while lying down. It is not in a mystery for which one should be afraid, it is just the nature of the system of the Zebra.

Why do zebras sleep standing up?

One thing all living things do share in common is sleep; human beings, insects, and animals generally sleep.  So, in the same vein, sleep is a habit that is very common and also constant among different species of animals. However, all animals sleep differently.

In this article, we have identified that like other animals the zebra has its own sleeping posture; the zebra sleeps while standing up, and equally sleeps why lying down. However, in this section, we will be sharing with you why the zebra sleeps while standing.

Here is why Zebra’s sleep standing up:
  1. Stay Apparatus
  2. Adaptability Feature
  3. Protection from predators
  4. Time of the day
1. Stay Apparatus

Apparently the observational fact that the various species of zebra are not the only animals that sleep while standing up is very much worthy of note. Yes, the assertion is right because most herbivorous animals that dwell on land and have four legs, have the ability to slightly sleep off while standing up.

This seeming superficial ability is possible as a result the joints of the four legs of the animal, which lock properly fixed in place whenever the animal is standing. It is best identified as the stay apparatus. So best put, the stay apparatus gives the various animals the needed balance to stand, and the comfort to sleep why standing.

2. Adaptability Feature

The various species of zebra like other animals have predators, and are prey to others too. For instance, the various species of adult zebra have one predator which is the lion, but the species of young zebras could be preyed on by leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, and other a few other animals.

Knowing that they have predators, they utilize the stay apparatus by standing firm and then they sleep while standing, although very lightly. The hoofed mammal (various species of zebra) sleep while standing as an adaptability feature to an environment. It is an adaptability feature in that the mammals are mostly found in Africa; in the savannah forests of Africa, a place where its biggest predator the lion resides.

Conscious of the danger in the zone, the inability to resist sleep makes the species of zebra sleep while standing up. Whether zebra is offspring of an inter-breed between a zebra and a horse, or a pure zebra, the consciousness of the danger within the zone keeps it standing on its leg.

3. Protection from Predators

Another reason they stand while sleeping is to protect themselves from danger. Zebras sleep while standing up when in danger as already established, which is also considered different to be different from why other types of animals like the horse that belongs to the same family as the zebra.

Usually, any of the species of zebra, especially the plain zebra will always take any seeming opportunity to get some sleep whenever they can, however these species of zebra can only do this when they are in a colony, or a pack; generally when they are in large groups.

This is because, by them being a group, they are able to get enough bodily support from each other, for instance the species could be leaning on each other’s neck or the part of the body they consider to be very convenient while sleeping.

Also, being in larger groups, or pack, or colony gives them enough room and confidence to take the nap, because when they danger comes, they are able to quickly fight back, or run away in escape from the looming trouble. So clearly, it is safe to say that the species of zebra sleep while standing when they are in large numbers as a premium shield from predators while responding to the call of nature to sleep.

4.Time of the day

Another factor that determines the sleeping mode or the sleeping posture of the various species of zebra, is the time factor. Remember that zebras migrate a lot in search of better water, and this happens mostly during the day, from which they are tired, and feel sleepy. So when they are feeling sleepy during the day, the zebras sleep while standing, but if they happen to fall asleep at night, they would probably be lying down in a place they consider safe.


Zebras like has been established in this article do sleep while standing for a number of reasons, which is to be alerted by or before the attack from predators. Also, the species of Zebra are able to sleep while standing because of the stay apparatus, which we already identified to be muscles, and tendons, and ligaments which enables the zebra to tightly lock their joints against each other, especially on the level of their knees.

So, once their joints are locked, the zebras are able to stand firm without any fear of falling, so they take the very comfortable position and sleep, hence adding the standing posture to their sleeping position. We have also established that when the species of zebra sleep while standing, it is purely the animal or the mammal taking a nap, and not a deep sleep.

On the other hand, the various species of zebra need to lay down and sleep, real deep sleep which is often identified as the REM sleep, in which they sleep very deeply, and regain lots of strength, as well as energy. It is true that the deep sleep does not last as long as the nap does, but this particular mode of sleep makes it very possible for the animal to sleep.  This kind of sleep happens at night.