Have you ever wondered whether bugs sleep as you do? Do they have tiny little beds with blankets and pillows? Maybe they have cute sayings their parents say before bed, such as “Sleep tight! Don’t let the human beings bite!”
Rest is an important part of the daily life of any living organism. You know how you feel if you don’t get enough sleep. It’s hard to do the things you like to do if you don’t get enough rest every evening.
Are bugs the same way? Scientists know that bugs don’t sleep in quite the same way that we humans do. For example, insects don’t have eyelids, so they can’t get any “shut-eye.”
Scientists usually study sleep in other animals by observing brain activity. They haven’t been able to do so with insects, though. Still, they believe that insects do indeed rest each day. They just do it a little differently than we do.
Most insects are either active only during the day or only at night. When they’re not active, they rest. This state of rest in insects is called torpor, and it’s not exactly like sleep as we know it.
During torpor, insects remain very still and don’t respond much to stimuli around them. Insects in a state of torpor can appear to be sleeping because they aren’t moving or responding to the world around them.
Insects can come out of torpor in a matter of seconds if an environmental stimulus is powerful enough. Stimuli that can “wake” insects out of torpor include sounds, movement, and the rising (or setting) of the Sun.
So, where do insects rest when they’re in a state of torpor? It can be just about anywhere they feel comfortable and safe from predators. Some resting places can be a bit strange. For example, some bees will clamp their jaws onto a plant and fold up their legs as they enter a state of torpor, dangling in this odd pose until morning!
Likewise, some migrating butterflies gather together in large groups in the evenings and hang from branches, appearing to sleep in anticipation of their continued journey the next day. Resting in large groups provides the butterflies with protection from predators, too.
Scientists have found that torpor may be as important to insects as sleep is to humans. Both fruit flies and honey bees act differently when sleep-deprived. They also tend to sleep longer after periods without their regular torpor.
Have you ever seen a bug that seemed to be sleeping? In most cases, it’s best to leave them alone and let them get their beauty rest! After all, how would you like it if someone woke you up from a deep sleep? Rest is just as important to most other animals.