Just like human beings, birds too are blessed with the ability to make up for the lost sleep with a little bit of 'power napping'.
Dolores Martinez-Gonzalez of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen says that just like humans and other mammals, birds also recover from periods of sleep loss by sleeping more intensely at a later time.
AdvertisementIn humans, it is described as a deep, dreamless slow-wave-sleep (SWS). It has been so named because slow oscillations of neurons are reflected in the EEG (Electroencephalogram), as large slow-waves with a frequency of less than 4 Hz, during this pattern of sleep.
Scientists have known it for a long time now that the amount of slow-waves is positively correlated with the depth of sleep.
Although birds also show SWS, it remained unclear until recently whether they show the same response to sleep loss as humans and other mammals.
To find an answer to that query, the research team prevented pigeons from taking naps, something they generally do during the last hours of a day. During the night, the birds were allowed to sleep normally.
Although the time spent in SWS did not increase during recovery, the amount of slow-waves did increase, suggesting that pigeons and presumably other birds have the capacity to recover lost sleep without having to spend more time sleeping.