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Reindeer can eat and sleep at the same time

About the episode

It is now the middle of winter for reindeer in the Arctic. This is no problem for the animals, provided they have eaten their fill in the summer.

Research shows that reindeer do something very special to be able to eat as much food as possible during the summer months: they eat and sleep at the same time.

Their brains enter a sleep-like mode while they chew. This way they can spend as much time eating without sacrificing sleep.

Researchers saw this when they studied the brain activity of some local reindeer in Norway.

Just like a cow, reindeer have four stomachs. The first stores grass that can be picked up again to chew. During this process, they saw brain activity change to a state associated with REM sleep.

Their bodies also entered a kind of rest during these moments. Even when their eyes were open and they were standing, they became quieter and less responsive to sounds around them.

What was also notable was that the animals that did this more often needed less deep sleep, the researchers saw.

Read more about the research here: The reindeer can activate sleep mode while eating

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