Do Dolphins Dream? The Secrets of Their Sleep

The question of whether dolphins dream is an interesting one, considering that they’re aquatic mammals. Quite frankly, the environment that dolphins live in is different from land mammals, so it’s expected that their sleeping patterns are different.

Do dolphins dream? After looking into the brain activity of dolphins, it’s clear that they have no REM-sleep, which is where dreaming would occur. While sleeping, dolphins keep half of their brain active which keeps them safe from active predators and helps them to not drown.

Being in the deep waters requires them to be alert and aware of their environment, thus, unlike land mammals, dolphins don’t have clear-cut dreams Keep reading to learn more about why dolphins don’t dream as land mammals do.

dolphin sleeping

Dolphins Don’t Enter Deep Sleep

Normally, dreaming requires a deep sleep. Before a dream begins to take place, there are stages of sleep that occur when a mammal is asleep.

It is during the deep sleep stage that dreaming takes place. Since dolphins don’t have deep sleeping sessions, it is quite obvious that they don’t dream as other animals do.

For water mammals like dolphins and whales, their environment is totally different from that of dry land. This forces them to adopt different sleeping patterns and methods. As a result, dolphins lack deep sleep sessions, which are an important requirement for dreams.

When resting in the water, dolphins have to keep one part of the brain awake for them to maintain a substantial level of awareness. Their natural environment requires them to maintain such levels of alertness.

It’s for this reason that they can’t have a deep sleep that paves way for dreaming. Land mammals can comfortably find a place where they can sleep and receive deep sleep for a longer period of time. On the contrary, dolphins do not have such because of the fact that they stay in the water all the time.

Can Dolphins Drown?

Although it is very rare, dolphins can drown by suffocating from a lack of air. One of the reasons that dolphins sleep with only half of their brain at a time is to reduce the chances of them actually drowning during sleep.

More About Dolphins Dreaming

To further explain why dolphins don’t dream, let’s take the example of seals. Though they are water animals, they can move out of the aquatic environment and have moments of sun-bathing.

During this time, they can do what they can’t do when in their natural water environment and go into a deep sleep. Therefore, it’s evident that dreaming requires a state of deep sleep that can’t be possible for dolphins in their natural environment.

The amount of attention that dolphins require to perform their physiological functions can’t allow them to dream as land mammals do. There is a level of attention that dolphins must have for them to function properly, which limits their capacity to dream.

Imagine how they would swim if they were in a state of dreaming since they can’t be in motion while still in deep-sleep mode.

Unlike humans, who can have the ability of sleeping without having to consciously be alert, dolphins have to be aware of their environment. This allows them to have the capacity to perform their important physiological functions.

For these functions to take place effectively, their brains have to be attentive. As you have already learned, a night of deep sleep has a connection with dreams, and this is not possible for dolphins because they have to be attentive most of the time.

Clearly, it’s evident that dolphins and their natural surroundings are unique from land mammals, and that is why dreaming doesn’t come easily for them.