Sleeping like a dolphin has its advantages! Would it not be wonderful to rest one of your brain hemispheres at a time and to sleep with one eye open.
Dolphins are fascinating and they are a wonderful source of inspiration for ideas related to their superpowers whether it is echolocation, communication, streamlined body shape, or sleep pattern.
Despite the lack of complete sleep, unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (USWS) does not give dolphins any problems with their health or memory. Their immune system, brain plasticity, brain energy metabolism, and thermoregulation help them to compensate for the lack of complete sleep. One half of the brain is in deep sleep and the eye corresponding to this half is closed while the other half is awake and the eye remains open.
A great way to observe animals sleeping with an eye open is to study birds in your garden or in the local park. Birds look really cute when they are sleeping with one eye open. Threats in the environment, as well as specific requirements, have led to the evolution of asymmetrical sleep. Dolphins for example need to go up to the surface to breathe.
Under some circumstances, it seems that even we humans exhibit a similar sleeping style, for example when we experience troubles sleeping in a new location. This is called the first night effect. When we are familiar with a place, we can enjoy a deep night’s sleep. I love how our observations of animals such as dolphins have helped us gain a deeper understanding of the way we humans sleep.