Do Cows Sleep Standing Up?

Do Cows Sleep Standing Up

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Ever heard of an urban myth that cows sleep with their eyes open? Well, it is hard to believe because how can any human or animal sleep with their eyes open. Same as most of us are struggling to know if the cows sleep on their feet? If they do, how do they manage to sleep in that position? Don’t they fall off? Rest assured, all such questions would be answered today. So, let’s find out if this farm animal sleeps on its feet or not?

Do Cows Sleep Standing Up?

Yes, cows can sleep standing up, the appropriate answer to the question is that cows can doze off but when it comes to “Rapid Eye Movement Sleep ” they prefer laying down like all of us. So, you can say cows can sleep standing up.

Do Cows Love Sleeping this Way?

Well, they absolutely do not like sleeping this way, it’s just this poor animal has no other option. Cows are taken as prey animals, they can be taken down anytime by dogs, wolves, grizzly bears, bobcats, tigers, and cougars, etc so to be able to escape cows do not lay down to doze off. If they had no fear of being attacked, cows probably would have preferred laying down.

In simpler words, cows can sleep while standing on their feet but it usually happens during the day. Whenever cows need to have a rest properly, they usually lay down but only for a few minutes.

The mystery might have been revealed but there is still a lot that our reader needs to know.
So, here’s what else you need to know;

Why is sleeping like this not tiring for cows?

Humans can’t sleep like this but It’s not hectic for these animals at all. The reason why such animals do not find it hectic is that their limbs contain tendons and ligaments that allow the animal to stand with minimal muscular support. The tendons and ligaments in the limbs allow these animals to doze off for hours without getting tired.

It’s not that surprising as the migratory birds can sleep whilst fly

It might be quite surprising for the readers who have just found out about this weird sleeping habit, well “actually” it’s not that surprising at all.

The migratory birds surprise us more as they usually take a long flight, sometimes six months long.

They keep flying for six months straight without touching or feeling the ground, it’s hard to stay awake for that long.

They usually sleep whilst flying and the migratory birds do not even lose balance while doing so. In our eyes, it’s more surprising than a cow not laying down to sleep.

The cows that have been spending their lives in a peaceful environment hardly sleep like that
The environment prevents the cows from laying down and getting good sleep.

The cows that live in the safer environment, surrounded by the barbed fences hardly sleep like that. They usually lay down to sleep more often.

Like humans and few big animals, cows usually lay down at the night

According to studies, Cows typically sleep around 3.9 hours a day, the said domestic animal takes short naps during the day and REM in the night. So, to have a peaceful REM cows lay down at night.

They are normally spotted laying down only at night as they sleep while standing up in the day. This is the reason why it is often considered that cows do not lay down to sleep at all.

Let alone cows, some other big animals also sleep standing up

This weird habit is just not found in the said farm animal only, some other animals like elephants, horses, and zebras do the same.

The elephants, rhinos, bison, horses, and zebras sleep exactly how cows do because it allows them to survive the predator attacks easily.

All these prey animals know that the process of standing up and escaping would be slow and clumsy.

Cows mainly do so to remain highly alert

It’s clearly not the cow’s favorite position to sleep, they just have no other option. In fact, it’s just not the cows, the other prey animals, who have been sleeping like that, do not like this sleeping position either.

All these animals that are categorized as prey animals mainly do so to remain alert and to be able to escape readily.

It’s not only the cows, elephants, horses, zebras, rhinos, and boisons, some other wondrous creatures have weird sleeping habits

We have mentioned migratory birds above but frankly, there still are some worth-mentioning creatures that can surprise our readers with their supernatural sleeping habits.

Let us first make it clear to you that it is not that these wondrous creatures like sleeping this way, their lifestyle forces them to be more alert.

The whales and dolphins sleep with half of their brain to prevent themselves from drowning, sea otters hold their hands while sleeping to not get drifted away while sleeping, and giraffes do not sleep for weeks because of the lifestyle they have.

If all these animals have such surprising sleeping habits we are pretty sure the other animals have as well, they might still just need to be studied a little.


It’s not tiring for birds and animals at all, some birds can sleep standing up as well

It looks tiring if we look at it from a human point of view when in reality it is not hectic for a few birds and animals at all.

Other than cows, elephants, horses, and zebras, some birds like owls, hawks, and hummingbirds can also sleep standing up tirelessly.

The birds (owls, hawks, and hummingbirds) that usually sleep standing up do not lay down at all even to get REM at night.

This sleeping position is advantageous in all senses

This sleeping position that appears tiring to us is not hurting cows at all, it is rather keeping the cows alert and protecting this poor animal from being attacked.

Since it’s not harming the cows and other prey animals, it can be considered, without any doubt, that this sleeping position is advantageous in all senses.

Cows lay down more often than any other animal with the same habit

As we have mentioned above, it’s not the cows; some other prey animals like elephants, giraffes, rhinos, bison, horses, and zebras have the same habit.

Out of all the above-mentioned animals, the cows prefer to lay down more. The other animals have a more rough lifestyle, it does not allow them to loosen up.

Cows prefer sleeping closer to their families

Cows are known and admired for several reasons, one of them is having a social hierarchy with one boss cow. The cows prefer sleeping closer to their family being led by the boss cow.


It’s true, cows do doze off on their feet but at night they usually lay down to have a “Rapid Movement Eye Sleep” that lasts a few minutes. It’s not the cows, some other prey animals like horses, elephants, rhinos, bison, horses, and zebras sleep standing up as well. Like other vulnerable farm animals, cows have many predators.

All these prey animals including cows do so to be alert and escape the predator attacks. As cows doze more than having a deep sleep, they are often noticed sleeping on their feet. Cows do not normally prefer sleeping on their feet if the environment they live in is safe. They would just lay down and have a good sleep.

It’s not hard for the cows to sleep this way as their limbs contain tendons and ligaments that allow the animal to stand with minimal muscular support. This weird sleeping position does not harm the cows and saves them from predator attacks so it is advantageous in all senses.

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