Chicken lovers can finally get their answer to that question!
That’s thanks to a new study from Cornell University, which has uncovered that some birds sleep better when they eat more of the same food.
A team of researchers examined how the sleep habits of three species of birds—bantam, bantam, and hen—and three types of plant material differed when they were given a variety of foods and then exposed to a light stimulus.
The study found that when they ate a food that contained the same amount of protein, calcium, and other nutrients as the food with a higher protein content, the birds slept better.
When they ate the same variety of plant matter but with different nutrients, the researchers found that the birds woke up more quickly and slept less.
They were also more likely to awaken from their slumber and get up and go for a walk, and their sleep was also less consistent, indicating that their sleep patterns were not consistent.
“What is interesting about this study is that these are the results of comparing two different foods and that they are similar to the results that we’ve seen in other studies of sleep in birds,” study author and Cornell University Distinguished Professor of Psychology Steven Novella told The Daily Beast.
“What we found is that the sleep of bantam birds and hen birds are more consistent across different food types.”
“The results show that these birds are just very good at staying up and waking up,” he added.
“And it’s not just that they have a lot of sleep—they have a very consistent pattern of sleep.”
A study published in Nature Communications last month found that birds were better able to remember what food they ate when they encountered a variety that contained different nutrients.
The researchers found the more nutritious a food was, the more the birds were able to recall it.
“They don’t just have a memory of what they ate in the past, they remember what they are eating in the future,” Novellas said.
“This could be a result of learning or perhaps it could be because they have this ability to remember the exact sequence of foods that they eat, so it’s just a matter of finding a way to improve their recall.”
Novellos study also found that if the bird was given the option of choosing a different food from its current diet, it would have to make more choices to get the same result.
“So, if a bantam or a hen is given a choice between different kinds of food, they will make more of a choice if the food is different,” Nivellas explained.
The results suggest that birds may have an innate ability to recognize certain foods they’ve eaten before and avoid certain foods in order to maximize their ability to get a better sleep.
“If you’ve eaten chicken before and have eaten it well, then the food you ate yesterday was probably fine,” Nervellas added.
“But if you’ve had a taste of it in the last week, then you know that the chicken was not what you expected.”
“This may be a very natural, innate ability of these birds to make that choice,” he continued.
“If you’re in a restaurant and the server is asking you what kind of chicken you want, and you say ‘I’m not sure what I want’ and you’ve tried a lot and the menu says ‘chicken, steak, lamb, pork’, then that’s probably what you want.”
The researchers are now trying to figure out how this ability is developed in the first place, and hope to use their findings to help create new diets for wild birds.