Sleep and rest in horses

We aimed at studying sleep disorders in horses and backround factors affecting resting comfort and sleep in horses.

Horses are classified as short-sleeping grazers, presumed to have short daily resting time, as they need lots of time to consume large amounts of low-calorie foods. Adult horses have been reported to sleep mostly during the night and the total sleep time has been estimated to be 2.5–5 hours per day. Horses sleep in short ten-minute bouts, consisting of approximately 5 minutes of NREMS and REMS, with considerable variation among individuals. Horses are a unique species, as they can postpone their REMS up to weeks in a hostile environment. However, it  not known if any compensatory mechanisms or recovery phases exist during and after postponed REMS in horses.



Horse owner – Participate to survey!

Sleepless in the Stable?

Horse resting behavior and sleep disturbances are studied in a research project together with University of Helsinki, Nord University and Finnish Equine Information Centre. A questionnaire targeted to horse owners is launched to discover the prevalence and factors associated with sleep disturbances. The questionnaire is open 27.12.2022–28.2.2023 and can be answered in Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and English. Two gift cards to a horse accessory store is drawn among the respondents.  




Research group

Multiscientific group consists of equine veterinarians, neurologists, ethologists, animal trainees and sleep researchers. Group has seniors, post graduate and graduate students. 

associate professor Anna Mykkänen,, kotisivu

specilising veterinarian, doctorate student Iina Brotherus,

adjunct professor Laura Hänninen, laura.hanninen@helsinki.fikotisivu

associate professor Tarja Pääkkönen, tarja.paakkonen@helsinki.fikotisivu

adjunct professor Marianna Norring, marianna.norring@helsinki.fikotisivu

associate professor Peter Krawczel, peter.krawczel@helsinki.fihome page

doctoral student Heli Suomala

lecturer, PI, Henna-Kaisa Wigren, home page

DVM Anna-Mari Olbricht, animal trainer

specilising veterinarian Mira Hämäläinen

animal trainer Tuire Kaimio

associate professor Emma Ternman, Nord University, Norway


The study has got funding from the Finnish ministry of agriculture and forestry and Finnish Veterinary Foundation