Do Fish Sleep?

While most fish rest by reducing their activity and metabolism, fish "sleep" is different from that of land mammals.

a sleeping fish

A Pacific sand lance, shown here, employs a unique strategy of burrowing into sand to rest and conserve energy, and to avoid predation.

The nature of fish "sleep" is an area of active research. While fish do not sleep in the same way that land mammals sleep, most fish do rest.

Research shows that fish may reduce their activity and metabolism while remaining alert to danger. Some fish float in place, some wedge themselves into a secure spot in the mud or coral, and some even locate a suitable nest. These periods of "suspended animation" may perform the same restorative functions as sleep does in people.

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Last updated: 02/26/21
Author: NOAA
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