Snails are full of surprises. You might not imagine that these tiny, slow-moving organisms are all that interesting at first glance, but you’d be surprised just how complex these creatures are. One of the fascinating factoids about snails is something that you probably wouldn’t give much thought to under different circumstances: snails need sleep. Like a lot of living creatures, snails require rest—and sometimes a lot of it.

Snails don’t necessarily operate on the same 24-hour sleep cycle that humans and other animals often rely on. For snails, sleep can be a matter of survival. If conditions aren’t quite right for the creatures to survive, they might curl up and snooze. Snails can sleep for three years in this state. That is impressive that snails live about five years in the wild. That means the majority of their life may be spent sleeping.

This article will explain to you why snails sleep this way, how long snails sleep for, and other interesting facts about snail sleep habits.

How Long Do Snails Really Sleep For?

Unlike humans and other animals, snails don’t necessarily prescribe to the 24-hour sleep cycle that keeps most of us going. They sleep using a different cycle, and how long it lasts is dedicated not by how rested they are but by the weather.

Snails can sleep for up to three years if needed. But that is not how long they typically rest. Usually, snail sleep cycles are spread out over two or three days. During this time, snails will sleep in patterns. According to researchers, they sleep for seven different periods in the first 13 to 15 hours. After that, they remain alert for 30 hours. If conditions are favorable, they will exit the cycle. If not, they return to their sleepy state.

Why Do Snails Sleep For So Long?

Snails are very sensitive to their environment. If temperatures become too hot or dry, they can become dehydrated and die. When they encounter those inclement conditions that would threaten their livelihood, they choose to sleep it off. Snails crawl into their shell and enter a state of deep sleep. 

This likely sounds familiar. It’s essentially what bears and other creatures do during the winter, right? That is called hibernation. But for snails, it is estivation: the act of prolonged sleep during a hot or dry period. They can stay in this state for as long as is needed until more friendly weather occurs. That can take a long time! But typically, snails exit this state of estivation after a couple of days. 

How Do Snails Sleep?

Snails sleep in their shells. Beyond that, they aren’t particularly picky about how they sleep. Occasionally, you may hear that snails sleep upside down. They certainly can sleep that way, but it is not required. 

Snails will often sleep upside down, perhaps hanging from a branch or a leaf, when the ground conditions don’t suit them. If it is too hot or too cold, they may seek another environment in which to sleep. That can result in them sleeping upside down if that is what it takes. 

Additional Fun Facts About Snails:

Snails can’t hear

Snails don’t have ears, so they can’t hear. That said, it is believed that snails can sense vibrations from sounds.

Some snails are venomous

Snails have plenty of predators, and they have to defend themselves, so some snails are venomous. In fact, cone snails have enough venom to kill an adult human.

Slime protects them

That slimy trail that snails leave behind them? It protects them from harm. A snail’s slime is thick enough for snails to crawl over sharp objects without getting cut.

Snails like company while eating

Scientists have found that snails prefer to eat from the same food source as other snails, even if there are other meals nearby that they could have to themselves.

Final Thoughts

Snails are some of the most fascinating creatures around. These gastropods have mastered the art of sleep, utilizing estivation to sleep for up to three years when necessary. Their sleep habits are unique within the animal kingdom, and an impressive display of survival instincts to simply rest until conditions are better suited for them.