Whether you have a new puppy or a sleepy older dog, you may wonder if your dog’s sleep schedule is normal. You might also think, “Why do dogs sleep so much?” or “What happens when dogs sleep?”
Puppies require about 18 to 20 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. This includes time spent sleeping for the majority of the night. Old dogs also require more sleep in order to keep up their energy levels and recharge. On average, however, most dogs need about 10 hours of sleep per day. Adult dogs will spend more time sleeping at night. Generally, adult dogs sleep for between 60 and 80% of the night.
Learning about why sleep is so important can help you ensure that your dog’s sleep pattern is normal and healthy.
What happens when dogs sleep?
When considering “Why do dogs sleep so much?” it’s important to think about what sleep does and how dog sleep works. A dog’s sleep schedule looks very different from a human’s. Humans tend to sleep for long, unbroken intervals. They also spend about 25% of their sleep time in the REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, stage.
REM sleep is part of dream sleep, one of two stages of sleep that most mammals, including humans and dogs, experience. The first stage is where the mind is at rest but the body can still be relatively active. The other stage is the dream stage, where the body is at rest but the mind is active.
Dogs only spend about 10% of their sleep time in REM. They also doze off quickly and become alert when waking just as fast. Dogs don’t tend to sleep for as long or as deeply as humans.
Because they don’t spend as much time in REM or deep sleep, dogs need more sleep than people. Most dogs will spend about 40 to 60% of a 24 hour period asleep or dozing. This generally includes sleeping through the night and dozing during the day.
It takes a dog about 10 minutes to go from dozing into REM sleep. During this time, the breathing slows. Dogs might twitch or move around as they dream. However, most dogs are relatively still while they dream.
Although it’s uncertain exactly how REM sleep works, it definitely has benefits for both people and animals. Scientists believe that REM sleep contributes to better memory function and improved moods. It can also enhance learning abilities and brain development, so it’s especially important for puppies.
Is my dog sleeping too much?
If your dog has suddenly started oversleeping, it’s a good idea to look into what’s going on. Oversleeping can be a sign that something else is wrong.
If you suspect that your dog is oversleeping, looking for any other behavior that seems unusual. You might want to check to make sure your dog is eating regularly. You’ll also want to ensure that the dog is going to the bathroom as frequently as before.
If your dog is suddenly sleeping much more, a trip to the vet is a good idea. This is especially true if there are any other signs that something might be off. Dogs that are oversleeping can be suffering from a number of conditions, including diabetes and narcolepsy.
Why isn’t my dog sleeping at night?
There are a number of reasons why a dog might not be sleeping at night. These can include an irregular sleep schedule or illness. Puppies or recently adopted dogs may also have a hard time maintaining a sleep schedule.
You can often tell if a dog isn’t getting enough sleep by a change in mood. Dogs that are tired are often grumpier and less energetic. They may be less interested in food or play or they might have a harder time following commands.
If your dog was sleeping regularly before but has recently developed a sleep issue, something might be wrong. Check for anything else that’s off, such as loss of or increased appetite. If you feel that something’s amiss, make a visit to your veterinarian.
Certain conditions can make it difficult for dogs to sleep. For example, breeds with short snouts, such as bulldogs, can suffer from sleep apnea. Vets can sometimes help to pinpoint these conditions and suggest treatments.
Different sounds or environments can also make it difficult for some dogs to sleep. Acclimating your dog to a new space or new person can help assure them that everything is alright. This can make sleep much easier and less stressful.
Older dogs can also experience sundowning. This condition, which also occurs in humans and other mammals, happens during the evening. During it, dogs can become confused, disoriented, and distressed.
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How can I develop a sleep schedule for my dog?
If you suspect that your dog isn’t getting enough sleep or is sleeping too much, you can implement a sleep schedule. This is particularly useful for puppies who haven’t developed a schedule of their own yet.
The first step to setting up a sleep routine is to make sure your dog is getting a healthy amount of exercise each day. This can come in the form of a walk, training, or some fun play. However, make sure that any exercise or excitement ends at least two hours before you want your dog to sleep.
If your dog isn’t sleeping through the night, you may want to consider if the dog is napping too much. This is particularly true for puppies. Aim for shorter naps that work around a bathroom schedule.
In older dogs or dogs that are experiencing stress, herbal supplements can sometimes help them fall asleep. Switching to more nutritious food can also sometimes help.
Once you have a sleep schedule going, stick to it. Adjust as needed, particularly if your puppy is growing. As they age, puppies will need less sleep.
You’ll also want to take into account your dog’s sleep preferences. Some dogs are simply more active, while others take a while to get up in the morning. As long as you know what your dog likes, you’ll be able to tell if the sleep schedule is still on track.
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How much a dog needs to sleep depends largely on age and activity level. Getting the proper amount of sleep is important for dogs because it ensures that they’re properly rested, both physically and mentally.
Although most dogs need to spend about half of the day asleep, the exact amount of sleep needed varies. Working dogs or dogs that expend a great deal of energy during the day will often need more sleep. On the other hand, dogs that are inactive and bored will doze off more frequently.
If your dog isn’t sleeping properly or for long enough, it may be a sign that something is wrong.