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You may have read James’s article from last week titled “Going to Bed Early vs. the Sunday Blues”— but if you haven’t, you can find it here. It is a fantastic article about the benefits of sleep and how to beat the all-too-real Sunday slump. This is a relevant topic for me because I personally experience the Sunday blues every single week, and I would love to instead experience the Sunday joy(s). I also really love sleep. However, I have a problem. No matter what I do, how early I go to bed, or how much melatonin I take, I always end up falling asleep sometime between 3 and 5 in the morning (or not sleeping at all). Many other people (I hope?) have a similar problem, so as a response I am going to instead provide some inspiration for my fellow insomniacs to stay up ALL NIGHT. Because, there are those who are blessed with sleep, and then there’s us, the exhausted-yet-alert bat-people of insomnia and the early morning.
There are other nocturnal animals like us, and they are extremely fascinating creatures. So, I have compiled a list of the five coolest animals that stay up all night. I hope that they can serve as motivation to insomniacs everywhere to embrace sleeplessness, and harness it to perhaps sneak through a forest before dawn like an opossum, or burrow into the ground in the light of the full moon like a fox.
Gerbils are common household pets, and they are extremely cool because they get to run around in colorful tubes, play on wheels, and eat sunflower seeds all night. When gerbils are excited or stressed, they engage in an act called “thumping,” where they basically just repeatedly pound their hind legs on the ground. If there are multiple gerbils in a group, they will all thump together. Also, gerbils mark their territory by rubbing their stomachs onto things. Next time someone tells you to go to bed, you could try pounding your legs on the floor and then rubbing your stomach on their pillow, like a gerbil!
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Beavers are nocturnal, semiaquatic rodents, known for making really great dams. In the Ice Age, they used to grow to be 8 ft. long, but they have since shrunk. They also secrete a goo from the sacks under their tails that smells like vanilla, and is an FDA approved natural flavoring. Beavers gnaw on tree branches and run back and forth all night creating their awesome dams—much like how a human who can’t sleep might make a very fun pillow fort by the light of an iPhone. We are so similar.
Also known as “velvet worm,” the onychophora is a soft, many legged panarthropod (you don’t need to know what that means, just look at the picture). These creatures make cool, unique slime, and have interesting nighttime habits. They form social groups of 15 individuals, led by a dominant female, and live together inside of a rotting log. Each group is extremely aggressive towards groups in other logs, and they size each other up upon first meeting by running their antennas up and down each other’s bodies. If you’ve ever been kept up at night by friend group drama, just know that it happens to slimy worms too.
Just picture this: a nine-banded armadillo can jump 3-4 ft. in the air if it gets scared. That is much higher than I can jump, and I’ve measured. Armadillos are also great at doggy paddling, and they give birth to identical quadruplets every single time they get pregnant. They emerge at dusk to forage, and shuffle along slowly, stopping every once in a while to sniff the air. Armadillos are strange creatures that are best suited for the nighttime, as the daytime would probably not understand them. It is the same way with many humans.
Hermit crabs have really got it figured out, because they have built-in houses (their shells). This means that technically, they could take a nap whenever they wanted to, although they mostly just sleep during the day. At nighttime, they like to socialize with other hermit crabs and have fun by climbing all over each other. Kind of like a 5-year-old’s birthday party, but in the dead of night!
I hope that these facts about our nocturnal comrades have been motivating for you, or at the very least, entertaining. Next time you’re lying in your bed at 3 in the morning wishing for sleep and crying a little bit because you have an 8 am, just remember that you could instead embrace insomnia, and make like an armadillo. It’ll all be okay.