Dogs have many admirable attributes, such as loyalty, an impressive aptitude for behavior training, and the ability to sleep at a moment’s notice. Unlike humans, who generally sleep once a day, at night, dogs sleep both at night and throughout the day.
Research shows that dogs get around 10 to 12 hours of sleep over the course of a 24-hour day. When compared to adult dogs aged 1 to 5 years old, puppies and older dogs have less regular sleep patterns and need more sleep overall.
Like humans, dogs are diurnal animals, which means that they get a majority of their sleep at night. Unlike humans, dogs are polyphasic sleepers who sleep in multiple bouts throughout the day. The average sleep time for a dog is 45 minutes, whereas humans often sleep for seven to nine hours at a time.
Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?
The amount of sleep a dog needs depends on several factors, including their breed, personality, diet, activity level, and age. Sleep supports various aspects of a dog’s health, including their immune system, brain function, and ability to learn and retain memories.
Daytime activities can impact a dog’s sleep. For example, when dogs learn new commands, it affects their brain activity during REM and non-REM sleep. Emotional events also affect a dog’s sleep patterns. After a negative experience, dogs tend to fall asleep more quickly, sleep longer, and spend more time in REM sleep. Dogs who are more active, spending time on walks and with other dogs and humans, fall asleep faster and spend more time in deep sleep.
Changes to routine and sleep environment can also impact a dog’s sleep habits. In fact, where dogs sleep can significantly affect how much sleep they get. When dogs sleep indoors, they spend 80% of their night asleep, while those who sleep outdoors may only sleep for 60% of the night.
Is It Normal for Your Dog to Sleep All Day?
As they age, it is normal for dogs to sleep more and wake up earlier to go to the bathroom. However, if you notice any significant or sudden changes, such as your dog sleeping much more or less than normal, talk to your veterinarian. Sleep changes are sometimes a sign of an underlying health condition, such as arthritis, diabetes, a thyroid problem, or another disorder.
How to Tell if Your Dog May Not Be Getting Enough Sleep
Just like humans, a dog’s well-being can be negatively impacted by a lack of sleep. If your dog is getting too little sleep, you may notice them acting more stressed, anxious, or aggressive. Certain health conditions can also affect a dog’s quality of sleep. If your dog does not seem to be sleeping enough, or if they exhibit unusual behavior, talk with your vet.
Tips to Keep Your Dog Well-Rested
Research shows a well-rested dog is a more relaxed dog. With regular sleep, they can even learn new commands more easily. Follow a few simple tips to help your dog obtain enough sleep.
Establish a Routine
Changes in routine can affect a dog’s sleep and stress levels. Establish a daytime and bedtime routine, and stick with it. Be consistent with when you walk and feed your dog, and when you go to sleep. If you can, let your dog outside in the morning. The sunlight can help reinforce their natural sleep-wake cycles.
Make Time for Play and Exercise
Dogs that exercise more tend to sleep more and fall asleep faster. Playing and exercising together offers two benefits: it strengthens your bond and tires your dog out in time for bed.
Make Bedtime Relaxing
At night, turn off the television and dim the lights. When your dog settles into their favorite spot, pet them to help them relax. For anxious dogs, essential oil diffusers or snug clothes called anxiety wraps may calm their nerves.
Experiment With Different Dog Beds
Pay attention to how your dog likes to rest, and get them a bed that suits them. Some dogs like a large bed for sprawling out, while others like to tuck into a small bed. Of course, when they have the option, 86% of dogs will choose to sleep with their human companion.
Treat Underlying Conditions
For dogs with underlying conditions that interfere with sleep, veterinarians may recommend lifestyle changes, therapy, medication, and natural supplements. Pain medication has shown to improve sleep quality for dogs with osteoarthritis.
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Michael Breus, Ph.D - The Sleep Doctor is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and one of only 168 psychologists to pass the Sleep Medical Specialty Board without going to medical school. Dr. Breus is a sought after lecturer and his knowledge is shared daily in major national media worldwide including Today, Dr. Oz, Oprah, and for fourteen years as the sleep expert on WebMD. Dr. Breus is the bestselling author of The Power of When, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan and Good Night!