Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much

Curled up, cozy, and in the sun, you hear your dog gently snoring away. It’s only 9:30 am, and you two have been up for a couple of hours. Why is your dog already napping the day away, you wonder.

Then … is it normal? How many hours of sleep does your dog need? You can’t help but wonder if your dog is sleeping too much and if you should wake him up.

How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?


Did you know that dogs tend to sleep half the time …about 12 hours a day? For the other 12 hours, they spend 7 hours awake and relaxing and another five being active. In general, bigger dogs and older dogs will snooze more as they need higher energy levels to support their activity.

How Much Do Puppies Sleep?

Puppies sleep even more. Younger puppies might sleep as much as 18-20 hours a day in their first few months as they grow – just like babies. You might see puppies playing like crazy, then suddenly fall asleep to take power naps. They need sleep to help their brains and bodies develop. As puppies get older, they’ll sleep up to 14 hours a day. By the time they’re a year old, they’ll have more adult sleeping habits. 

Does My Dog Get Enough Deep Sleep?

Dogs and humans have different sleep patterns. For dogs, it takes them about 10 minutes to get into rapid eye movement (REM), also known as deep sleep. For dogs, about 10% of their 12 hours sleeping is in REM sleep.

In contrast, human sleep cycles include REM sleep for about a quarter of the time we’re sleeping. Because dogs don’t get as much REM sleep – they fall asleep easily and wake up alert – they need more sleep. But not all dogs need as much sleep. Age, breed, health and personality all play a part in how much your dog sleeps. For example, research shows that narcoleptic dogs spend about 40% less time in REM cycles than healthy dogs.

Research shows lack of sleep can increase your dog’s potential for diabetes and obesity, … as much as a high fat diet can.

Working dogs like sled dogs or rescue dogs tend to stay awake more because they have jobs. Dogs without jobs (other than being man’s best friend), have a more leisurely existence with lower activity levels.

PRO TIP 

If your dog doesn’t sleep enough, your veterinarian might suggest giving melatonin, which can help regulate normal sleep patterns … along with some extra benefits

When To Manage Your Dog’s Sleep Schedule

If you have a new puppy, or recently adopted a dog, it’s a good idea to get him on a sleep schedule. You want to make sure he pees and poops as needed, sleeps through the night and eats at appropriate times. And you want to avoid any accidents on your favorite carpets. You’ll also want to get him used to your own sleeping schedule.

If you have an older dog, he’s going to need more sleep. But you also don’t want to let him sleep too much. Wake him up every so often to make sure he stays hydrated … and gets plenty of bathroom breaks to get rid of that water. Getting up to move around every few hours will also stop him getting too stiff, if his joints are a bit creaky.

The Importance Of Exercise 

For all ages, getting plenty of daily walks will help keep your dog active and engaged while he’s awake. And it’ll help his sleep quality at night, when you too need to sleep. 

When To Worry About Your Dog Sleeping Too Much

It is possible for your dog to sleep too much … especially if his habits change. if you notice he’s suddenly sleeping for most of the day, this might be an indicator that something’s wrong. If it takes longer for him to wake up from a nap, that can also indicate he’s not feeling his best.

Sleeping longer could signal a few different health problems …

RELATED: Find out about joint supplements to keep your arthritic dog comfortable  …

Sleep Habits Of Dogs

Wolves, our dogs’ ancestors, turn around in circles before settling in for sleep. Dogs kept this habit. Some do more circles than others, but it’s a behavior that’s been passed down to keep them safe.

In the wild, wolves would position themselves so they could monitor the direction of the wind and be ready for any attacks. Your dog has this instinctive behavior ingrained in him, and though he’s safe at home with you, he still circles before napping or sleeping.

While your dog likely has a bed or another cozy spot to sleep, circling would help him create a nest in the wild. This nest would give him a soft, clean space to sleep, while also discouraging predators … and getting pests (like snakes or insects) out of his sleeping area.

Should My Dog Sleep With Me?

Yes and no. There are conflicting theories on whether or not you should let your dog sleep with you. Letting your dog share your bed could interrupt your sleep.

If your dog isn’t house trained, is new to your home, or either of you has health issues, it might be better for him to sleep in another room, or on his own bed. If you’re a light sleeper, it might be better to sleep without your dog, as well.

But, if your dog wants to sleep with you, it’s good for him. It’ll let him feel safe and secure, and could help with separation anxiety, or perhaps minimize nightmares if he suffers from PTSD.

For us, there are a great deal of benefits.

  • Dogs make us happy. Interacting with our dogs releases oxytocin, which promotes better REM sleep.
  • Dogs decrease our anxiety, easing insomnia.
  • Dogs provide a sense of security.
  • Dogs decrease loneliness.
  • Support animals help individuals who suffer from PTSD and nightmares.
  • Interacting with your dog lowers your blood pressure and decreases hypertension.
  • Your dog will bond more closely with you and be easier to train.
  • Your health will improve. You may suffer less from allergies or enjoy benefits like lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
  • Sleeping with your dog can keep you warm on cold winter nights (ever hear the expression three dog night, meaning it’s so cold you need to sleep with 3 dogs?)

When in doubt, try it out. If your dog wants to sleep with you, give it a go for a week or two. Then consider these questions …

  • Is he doing better? (Maybe he’s insecure, or codependent?) If his less desirable behaviors are improving, then perhaps sleeping with you is good for your dog.
  • How are you doing? Are your allergies better or worse? Does he disrupt your sleep? If your comfort isn’t impacted, then go ahead and let your pup sleep with you.

But if your sleep is suffering, and your dog isn’t improving, maybe it’s time to have him sleep in another room, or in his own bed or crate nearby. That’ll still give your pup the connection he’s craving while giving you some room to sleep soundly.

RELATED:  Read how your dog benefits your health …

As you and your dog bond, you’ll learn how much sleep is normal for him. If he sleeps too much, then he might not be getting sound, deep sleep, and that could be a cause for concern. But, if he’s just growing older, is a bigger breed, or he’s a puppy, then sleeping more just goes with the territory.

Keeping track of your dog’s habits will be helpful in both the long and short term … and will provide great information for vet visits in case of any health issues!

References

GJ Adams, KG Johnson. Sleep, work, and the effects of shift work in drug detector dogs Canis familiaris, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 41, Issues 1–2,1994, Pages 115-126.

Salma I. Patel et al. The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 92, Issue 9, 2017, Pages 1368-1372.

Woods HJ et al. A functional linear modeling approach to sleep-wake cycles in dogs. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 17;10(1):22233. 

Brouwer A et al. Impact of sleep deprivation and high-fat feeding on insulin sensitivity and beta cell function in dogs. Diabetologia. 2020 Apr;63(4):875-884. 

Merrill M Mitler, William C Dement. Sleep studies on canine narcolepsy: Pattern and cycle comparisons between affected and normal dogs. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, Volume 43, Issue 5, 1977, Pages 691-699.

Jean-Joseph H et al. Context-Specific Arousal During Resting in Wolves and Dogs: Effects of Domestication?Front Psychol. 2020 Nov 24;11:568199. 

Kinsman R, et al. Sleep Duration and Behaviours: A Descriptive Analysis of a Cohort of Dogs up to 12 Months of AgeAnimals. 2020; 10(7):1172. 

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