How Do Giraffes Sleep?

By Carrie Williford | November 21, 2021

For the most part, giraffes sleep standing up. Sometimes they’ll lean against a tree trunk. 1

Why don’t they sleep lying down? Because it’s hard! The effort it takes for a full grown adult giraffe to get down on the ground and then eventually stand back up is often not worth the effort. Why? Because they don’t sleep much! 1 2

According to a study of captive giraffes, they sleep a total of about 4.6 hours a day. 3 And, when they do sleep, it is only for a few minutes at a time. Sometimes, when they feel safe from predators and need a longer nap, they will lie down, twist their neck around their body, and use their butt as a pillow. This position makes them very vulnerable. 4

Babies are far more likely to be spotted lying down. They need more rest and they have the adults to look out for them while they are asleep. And, since they’re smaller, it’s easier to get up and down. 5

  1. Nicole Helget, Giraffes (Mankato, MN: Creative Education,2009) [][]
  2. Valerie Bodden, Amazing Animals: Giraffes (Mankato, MN: The Creative Company, 2011) []
  3. Irene Tobler and Barbara Schwierin, “Behavioural sleep in the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) in a zoological garden,” Journal of Sleep Research 5, no. 1, (March 1996): 21-32 []
  4. Sarah Keartes, “Giraffes Barely; Sleep, and When They Do, It’s on Their Butts” The Nerdist, May 27, 2016[]
  5. Anne Innis Dagg, 5 Giraffes: (Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2016) []