24 Endearing Photos of Animals Sleeping

From a chameleon perched delicately on a leaf to a baby monkey tucked in its mother’s embrace, see these animals enjoying their slumber.

A female leopard basks in the afternoon sun in Mombo, Botswana.

"I caught this little guy dozing at the boat dock in Valdez, Alaska," writes Your Shot photographer Joianna Carson. "He seemed to be oblivious to everything that was going on around him."

Your Shot photographer Senthi Aathavan Sethiverl captured this moment between a baby monkey and its mother at the Katagamuwa Sanctuary in Sri Lanka.

An orphaned sloth takes a nap at the Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica.

A pair of tern chicks sleep side by side on the beach at Stump Pass State Park, Florida.

In the Indian Ocean, a group of more than 30 adult sperm whales are sleeping at a depth of 15 meters. They stand like this without moving for minutes or hours. All are females, and all the calfs are at the surface while parents are sleeping.

"I saw this teeny-tiny baby chameleon sleep-hanging on a plant, while walking back to my tent at night in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar," writes Your Shot photographer S.R. "Rather than blast the little guy with a flash, I used my headlamp to illuminate it and took this shot."

An arctic fox sleeps in his den.

A pride of lions sleeps together in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

A slumbering leopard drapes itself across a tree branch.

A polar bear gets some sleep before heading out onto the sea ice.

Japanese macaques take a rest in thermal hot springs in Nagano, Japan.

An owl catches a wink of sleep while taking in the early morning rays in Bangalore, India. "The raised leg gives the impression of a monk in meditation," observed Your Shot photographer Girish Prahalad.

A pair of red foxes take a rest.

A koala dozes in a tree in the suburbs of New South Wales, Australia.

"Just a lovely sleeping seal," writes Your Shot photographer Vladimir Snegov.

While traveling in Alaska I stopped at the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge and had the opportunity to watch the Grizzly bears playing the water. This one bear decided he needed a nap so he climbed up on this log, lay down and fell asleep," writes Your Shot photographer Carol Bock.

A gosling nestles under the wing of its mother along the shore of a pond in Alberta, Canada.

Cheetah cubs have a nap in Cape Town, South Africa.

"These hippo have found the best way to sleep through the morning—cuddling!" writes Your Shot photographer John MacDonald. "With our boat passing close by, a couple of eyes were opened to check us out, but the cuddle remained."

A fallow deer strikes a somnolent pose.

A conspiracy of lemurs take a nap.

A king penguin rests on the beach of Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands.

A fawn takes a midday rest in Waterton Park, Canada.

Tap images for captions

Though some animals have elevated the powernap to an artform (think giraffes, dolphins, and bullfrogs), most creatures spend hours at a time oblivious to their surroundings. And since it’s a scary world out there, that means sleep spots are a reflection of where an animal feels safest.

For some, safety is a place to go—a drowsy leopard drapes itself over a high tree branch, while an arctic fox curls up in a secret den when it’s time to catch some z’s.

Others find safety in company. Sperm whales stick close to the pod to sleep, a dozen related females all ‘standing’ underwater to steal a few minutes of repose in the ever-perilous ocean. Ring-tailed lemurs and lion cubsboth sleep in dense family cuddle-puddles, sometimes to share body heat.

But the most blissful sleepers seem to be the ones snuggled close to mom. There’s nothing like a steady maternal heartbeat to help you doze off.

We’re not sure why animals—humans included—really need to sleep. Some scientists hypothesize that sleep gives the brain a chance to process the day’s events and consolidate information into long-term memory. Others think sleep may work as a reset button, helping replenish the neurotransmitters that cells in the brain need to communicate.

Though we’re not certain why, we do know that animals dream. REM sleep has been identified in all mammals and some birds (the jury is still out on reptiles). Across species, dreaming is most frequent in young animals, possibly as a way “practice” movements like running or climbing outside of the high-stakes real world.

Do You Sleep More or Less Than Other Animals?

Check out these beautiful images of sleeping animals from YourShot photographers around the world—we dare you not to yawn. 


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