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Do Frogs Sleep? (Yes, But They Stay Alert!)

Frogs only go into non-REM sleep states, not deep sleep. This means that even when they sleep, they remain stationary and close their eyes, but they still remain highly alert to their surroundings.

A sleeping frog
Frogs close their eyes when they sleep, but they remain alert

A study done by Hobson in 1966 showed that bullfrogs rested for prolonged periods, but they remained alert and were able to react with the same speed as usual during these rest periods.

This study confirms that while frogs do rest, they still remain reactive during these periods of rest.

Do Frogs Sleep?

Several studies show that frogs employ a period of rest called Non-REM sleep. During this type of sleep, the frog still receives low voltage signals to its brain of a high frequency, which proves that the brains are still active during the resting period.

Before we start talking about whether frogs sleep or not, it’s worth taking some time to know what sleep even is.

One of the earliest proponents of the definition of sleep was Pieron in his study from 1913. In it, Pieron proposed that mammals, birds, and reptiles all show the clear behavior pattern of sleep. 

However, according to Pieron’s study, insects, fish, and amphibians (including frogs) show physical signs of sleep, but not necessarily behavioral signs of sleep.

This means that frogs and other amphibians, fish, and insects all remain stationary when resting or sleeping. However, the brain activity of these animals is much different from the brain activity of mammals when they sleep. 

The brains of the frogs when they sleep never really switch off. They remain highly alert to their surroundings and will react to changes in the environment as quickly as they would if they were not asleep. And this is the biggest difference between how frogs sleep and how we sleep.

All these studies show that there’s a fundamental difference between how we perceive sleep and how frogs sleep. The conclusion that we can take is that frogs don’t sleep in the conventional meaning of the word, as they show different signs of being asleep.

A sleeping frog
Frogs’ brains remain active even when they are resting

Related Article: Why Do Frogs Croak at Night?

How Do Frogs Sleep?

Frogs sleep by closing their eyes, sitting still, and entering a period of non-REM rest. This means that they maintain some level of alertness even while they are sleeping.

Frogs remain alert to their environments even while they sleep and will run away if something disturbs them.

What does a Sleeping Frog Look Like?

  1. Frogs appear motionless as they sleep
  2. Their legs fold underneath their bodies
  3. Their eyes appear as though they are closed, covered by a special nictitating membrane that protects them

There still needs to be more research done on this topic, but all current evidence and observations point to the fact that frogs have a semi-passive pattern of sleep that can easily be broken with external stimuli.

If we compare how we sleep like humans and how frogs sleep, one would say that our patterns of sleep are quite different.

When we sleep, we aren’t aware of our surroundings and we don’t know what’s happening around us. We also don’t react to the environment unless it’s something that wakes us up.

And that’s the limitation when comparing the frog’s sleeping patterns with our sleeping patterns.

They’re so different that many scientists are still confused as to how to define the frog’s sleeping pattern. The frog’s sleeping could best be described as resting rather than the sleeping that we know and perform.

A Frog during sleep
Frogs tuck their legs under their bodies when they sleep

Related Article: Do Frogs Have Bones?

Why Do Frogs Sleep?

Frogs sleep (or rather, rest) to replenish their energy and to be mentally and physically prepared for the challenges it faces.

Just like almost any other animal out there, frogs also need to rest. When they sleep, they will replenish their energy and digest all the nutrients they’ve consumed during the day. Sleep is very important for frogs as it prepares them for the challenges it faces.

Read More: What Do Baby Frogs Eat?

According to several studies (Libourel et. al. 2015, Pieron 1913), frogs need a period of rest to survive. Just like other animals, frogs also require downtime as they remain highly active throughout the night.

This will help them stay sharp mentally and physically when they need to be when they hunt.

Frog croaking at night
Many frogs are nocturnal, so they rest during the day to replenish their energy

When, Where, and How Long Do Frogs Sleep?

The vast majority of frogs sleep during the day, and they will spend anywhere between 2-8 hours sleeping, depending on their surroundings and their habitat.

Frogs are nocturnal animals. They remain active at night when they hunt and look for potential hunting opportunities. This is also the time when their predators get active, so they need to be highly alert at night to survive.

So frogs will take the opportunity to rest during the day when not much is going on around them. 

The sleeping times and periods will also depend on each species and the characteristics of their environment. Not all species sleep at the same defined times; some sleep early on during the day, others sleep right before the night starts.

But the majority of frogs will sleep during the day, not at night.

The length of the sleeping time will also vary. This will primarily depend on the individual needs of the frog. Some will sleep for one or two hours at a time, while others might sleep for longer than that.

The place of the sleeping will also depend on the habitat and the habits of the frog.

Some ground-dwelling frogs might sleep in underground areas such as burrows, while frogs living in forests climb up trees and set up their sleep there. Aquatic frogs usually rest near the water’s edge where they remain highly alert to the potential hunting opportunities around them.

Marsh Frog
Many frogs choose to sleep near water, which affords them protection from land-based predators

Conclusion

Frogs sleep, but not in the conventional meaning of the word. Their sleep resembles rest rather than how we perceive the act of sleeping. They’ll remain inactive when they rest but they’re still alert as to what’s going on around them.

The notion of sleep in frogs is still not fully researched, though. There are some nuances between how different frog species sleep that still haven’t been fully researched. For this reason, we still need more evidence to fully understand the frogs’ sleeping behavior.

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