Ten Thousand Winks

Written by on December 15, 2023

Ten Thousand Winks – story by Liam Sweeny.

I just took a catnap. I feel like cat-crap. Do cat naps ever work? If you can’t catch forty winks, will seven do? I think we all know the answer to that. But what if you got ten-thousand winks a day? One of our cousins in the animal kingdom gets exactly that. Distant cousin.

The chinstrap penguin, named for a black strip that goes ear to ear, only sleeps for about four seconds. No, really, four seconds. They catch those four seconds ten thousand times a day, which works out to about eleven hours.

So why? Are penguins cramming for finals all their lives? Is there a super secret drug culture in the penguin world, and the snow that surrounds them is both physical and metaphoric? Yes, penguins do coke. Maybe. But there’s gotta be some reason they’re catching the most broken sleep in the animal kingdom, right?

For starters, penguins have to protect the eggs, find food, build nests – a burden all penguins share, male and female. So when one chinstrap penguin goes out for a pack of smokes, the other penguin has to sit on the eggs. And in the penguin world they actually get the smokes and they come back, and the other one goes out for smokes.

Long story short, they always at all times have to be on their guard, no matter what they do. Birds overhead, hungry connoisseurs of all things fried, over easy and poached. Other penguins, thieves on the lookout for nesting material, maybe even some ill-conceived illicit penguin adoptions. So they can’t exactly conk out for a few hours.

The scientists who researched this say that it must be good for them, because they are able to propagate the species, which should be an excellent guideline for what you can do and still be healthy. Forty ounce steaks are fine if you can still bow-chicka-bow-wow.

Don’t sleep ten thousand times a day. That’s like a four-hour erection; see a doctor.


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