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Migrating birds take hundreds of powernaps October 6, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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Migrating birds take hundreds of powernaps – LiveScience – MSNBC.com
To help make up for sleep lost during marathon night flights, migratory birds take hundreds of powernaps during the day, each lasting only a few seconds, a new study suggests.

They found that during autumn and spring, when the birds are normally migrating, they reverse their typical sleep patterns, staying awake at night and resting during day.

But instead of sleeping for long stretches at a time, the birds took several naps a day, each one lasting only 9 seconds on average.

The thrushes also mixed up their shut-eye sessions with two other forms of sleep. In one, called unilateral eye closure, or UEC, the birds rested one eye and one half of their brains while their other eye and brain hemisphere remained open and active, keeping them semi-alert to danger.

The birds also occasionally slipped into another state, one that any college student who has ever been stuck in a boring lecture can relate to. Called drowsiness, this state is characterized by a partial shutting of both eyes that still allows for some visual processing.

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