In this thrilling video, you are witnessing ostriches during two phases of sleep: slow wave, or SWS, and rapid eye movement, or REM.
So the footage at first blush may seem less than exciting, but scientists were actually thrilled to discover that ostriches have a unique sleeping pattern that harkens back to the earliest evolution of sleep. While most birds and mammals experience REM sleep, reptiles and other cold-blooded animals do not.
The scientists, who published their work in PLOS One previously thought that when ostriches got that drowsy look that they were just that: sleepy. But now they’ve found that the animals are actually sleeping and in SWS, and that they drop into REM (which you can see when they start swaying around looking drunk) and back into SWS repeatedly.
Why does anyone care about the weird sleeping pattern of ostriches? Because it might give scientists a clue as to why REM sleep became so important to humans. For us, quality REM, which usually happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep, improves memory and learning and boosts creativity. REM is also the time when intense dreaming happens. Wouldn’t it be cool to figure out why in your dreams sometimes your husband looks like your third grade maths teacher and your cat can speak French? (Crap is that just me?)