Dogs need a certain amount of sleep to stay healthy and happy. You may wonder how much sleep your furry friend needs each day. The answer depends on a few factors, such as: age, breed, size, lifestyle, overall health.
Understanding Dog Sleep
Dogs actually require quite a bit of sleep. Dogs are descendents of wild carnivores (meat eaters), who would usually sleep more than herbivores (plant eaters). Herbivores have a more dangerous environment to sleep, since they are prey and always need to be on the lookout. Sleep is considered less risky for carnivores (predators) since they are the ones doing the hunting. As dogs have evolved from their predatory ancestors, they still continue to require a significant amount of sleep.
Dogs need a lot of sleep, and it’s important to understand why. Your furry friend requires sleep to stay healthy and maintain their energy levels.
What are the Different Sleep Cycles?
Dogs, like humans, go through different phases of sleep. There are two main phases of sleep in dogs: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non-REM sleep.
Stage 1: During this stage, dogs are in a light sleep and can be easily awakened. Their muscles are still active, and they may twitch or move.
Stage 2: In this stage, dogs are in a deeper sleep, and their brain waves slow down. Their heart rate and breathing also slow down, and their body temperature drops.
REM sleep is the stage of sleep where dogs experience rapid eye movements, hence the name. During this stage, dogs are in a deep sleep, and their brain waves are similar to those of an awake dog. Their heart rate and breathing increase, and their muscles become relaxed, which can cause them to twitch or move. It’s during this stage that dogs may dream, and you may see them pawing at the air or making noises.
Dogs typically fall asleep quickly and can enter a deep sleep within minutes. They may twitch or move their paws while sleeping, which is a sign they are in a deep sleep. Dogs cycle through these stages of sleep throughout the night, and the amount of time they spend in each stage can vary depending on their age, breed, and other factors. Puppies and older dogs tend to spend more time in REM sleep than adult dogs.
Dogs are also polyphasic sleepers, which is a sleep pattern that involves sleeping multiple times throughout the day, instead of sleeping for one long period at night. Meaning dogs will take naps throughout the day instead of sleeping for a long stretch like humans do. This is why you may see your dog dozing off at different times of the day.
Why do Dogs Need So Much Sleep?
Dogs need a lot of sleep because it is essential for their physical and mental health. During sleep, a dog’s body repairs and regenerates tissues, strengthens the immune system, and consolidates memories.
In general, dogs will sleep about 50% of their day; about 12-14 hours, or an average of 11 hours. But there’s no one-size-fits all on how much sleep a dog will need, and will depend on a number of factors.
Here I breakdown each factor and why it’s important.
Age is usually the most important factor when considering how much sleep a dog needs.
Puppies require the most sleep, with an average of 12-20 hours per day. They will usually sleep less during the night but will sleep more during the day as opposed to adult dogs.
They’ll sleep a lot during the day, napping throughout the day. They will mainly sleeping in a crate or kennel. But by age 1, they’ll most likely be sleeping in their own dog bed.
Adults typically need between 8-14 hours of sleep per day, with an average of about 11 hours. However, this can vary depending on the breed, size, and activity level of your dog.
Generally, they will sleep longer during the night compared to puppies, with most of their time spent asleep will be between 8pm-8am. But don’t forget they’ll still need naps throughout the day since they are polyphasic sleepers.
Seniors will need more sleep than adult dogs, with an average of 14-16 hours per day, some sleeping up to 20 hours.
Senior dogs will usually sleep mostly through the night, and sleep-in compared to puppies and adults. They require more sleep to help them be able to recover from their daily tasks.
Some issues older dogs may face with sleep include:
- may not fall asleep and stay asleep as easily at night, especially if they have canine cognitive dysfunction (think of Alzheimer’s for dogs). They could be ‘sundowning,’ which is when they demonstrate increased confusion and restlessness
- possibly require medications throughout the night
- will need to urinate more (dog door, you taking them out, or pee pads)
Breed and Size
Breed and size will also determine sleep needs. Larger dogs will need more sleep compared to smaller ones. Possibly up to 18 hours a day for very large breeds. Medium size usually require 10-14 hours, while small breeds/sizes require 14-16 hours.
Breed and size can vary a dog’s sleep needs due to differences in their metabolism, energy levels, and overall health. A faster metabolism will allow greater energy expenditure, which may require increased hour of sleep in order to recover. Also, certain breeds are known for their high energy levels and require more exercise and mental stimulation to tire them out. These breeds may require more sleep to recover from their active lifestyle, while other breeds are more sedentary and may require less sleep overall.
Lifestyle in dogs can vary their sleep needs because different lifestyles can impact a dog’s physical and mental health, which can affect their sleep patterns.
Dogs that are highly active and engaged in regular physical activity may require more sleep than dogs that are less active. This is because physical activity can be tiring and may require more time for the body to recover and regenerate.
Also, dogs that experience high levels of stress or anxiety may have difficulty sleeping, which can impact their overall sleep needs. Stress can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult for dogs to fall asleep and stay asleep.
When a dog exercises, it releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that promote feelings of happiness and relaxation. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can interfere with sleep.
Additionally, exercise helps to regulate a dog’s circadian rhythm, which is the internal biological clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Regular exercise can help to establish a consistent sleep schedule for your dog, which can improve the quality of their sleep and help them feel more alert and energized during the day.
And exercise helps to tire out a dog’s body and mind, making them more physically and mentally relaxed. This can make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
The environment in which a dog lives can also impact their sleep needs. Dogs that live in noisy or chaotic environments may have difficulty sleeping, while dogs that live in quiet and calm environments may have an easier time sleeping.
A dog’s overall health can impact their sleep needs as well. Dogs that are dealing with a medical condition or chronic pain may require more sleep to help their body recover and heal. And certain breeds are prone to certain health conditions, such as respiratory issues or joint problems, which can impact their sleep needs. Dogs with respiratory issues may require more sleep to compensate for their breathing difficulties, while dogs with joint problems may require more sleep to help their body recover and heal.
Health Issues and Sleep
Your dog’s health can affect their sleep patterns. Some health issues that can impact your dog’s sleep include:
- could cause pain and discomfort, making it harder for your dog to get comfortable and fall asleep
- can cause excessive thirst and urination, leading to more frequent nighttime waking
- Kidney Disease
- may cause your dog to need to go outside more frequently, interrupting their sleep
- possibly cause lethargy and fatigue, leading to more daytime napping
- Heart Disease
- can cause breathing difficulties, which can make it harder for your dog to sleep through the night
- High Blood Pressure
- potentially lead to breathing difficulties and restless sleep
If you suspect your dog has any of these health issues, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan. Proper treatment can help improve your dog’s overall health and sleep quality.
How to Help Your Dog Sleep Better
Your dog needs plenty of rest to stay healthy and happy. To help your furry friend get the best sleep possible, try:
- Stick to a schedule:
- Dogs thrive on routine, so try to keep a consistent schedule for feeding, exercise, and bedtime.
- No visitors:
- Sleeping with you could be disrupting their sleep patterns. Have them sleep alone in their bed.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise during the day to tire them out for bedtime.
- Comfortable bed:
- Invest in a comfortable bed, ideally with orthopedic foam to support joints. Make sure it is big enough that they can stretch and move around as needed. And keep the dog linens soft and clean.
- Create ambiance:
- A nice quiet and dark space will induce normal sleep patterns. But remember, senior dogs may do better with a night light and/or noise machine.
When to Call a Vet
If you’re concerned on whether your dog is getting enough sleep, then try and observe them and look for any possible symptoms of sleep deprivation:
- increased stress, anxiousness, or pacing
- slow cognitive processing or inability to learn new tasks
You should consult with your veterinarian if your doggie demonstrates any abnormal behaviors, such as:
- you notice a change in your dog’s normal sleep patterns,
- if it’s hard to rouse them from sleeping.
- they are no longer interested in enjoyable play time activities
There may be an underlying condition you’re not aware of. And the best solution for helping them get more sleep is finding the underlying cause and fixing that.
Sleep is essential for your dog’s overall health and well-being. Understanding your dog’s sleep needs is vital to ensure your dog get the rest they need to stay healthy and happy.