How Much Sleep Does Your Dog Need?
The average human adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep, but what about dogs? Sleep is as important for your canine companion as it is for you. Sleep performs many of the same functions for dogs as it does for people although the structure of a dog’s sleep is a little different.
Sleeping Their Way Through the Day
Dogs actually need more sleep than people. Puppies, like babies, can sleep up to 20 hours per day. Their rapid growth rate and high energy needs mean their bodies need a lot of rest. Adult dogs typically spend 12 to 14 hours asleep, though large breeds and dogs that lead a sedentary lifestyle may sleep 16 to 18 hours. And, of course, dogs in their senior years sleep more, rivaling puppies in the amount of time spent with their eyes closed.
Dogs go through the same five sleep stages as humans. They even dream. If you’ve ever noticed your dog whining, barking, or moaning while he sleeps, he’s in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep where life-like dreams take place. Sleep performs many of the same functions for dogs too. While asleep, his body gets to work consolidating memories, healing, and stabilizing appetite and emotions.
However, a dog’s sleep is structured differently than ours. Humans go through five or six 60 to 90-minute sleep cycles in a seven to nine-hour stretch. Dogs have a much shorter sleep cycle of 16 minutes after which they will wake up for five minutes before they fall asleep again. Dogs hit REM sleep about 10 minutes into their sleep cycle. They do this throughout the day until they’ve slept for roughly 14 hours.
All dogs have wild ancestors. A short sleep cycle allowed wild canines to quickly wake in case of an intruder. This kind of behavior is still observed among wolves and other wild canines. Some scientists also believe that dogs have to sleep more to get adequate REM sleep.
Helping Your Dog Get Better Sleep
Dogs can suffer from sleep deprivation and show many of the same symptoms as humans when they do. They’re more likely to be anxious, irritable, and aggressive as their ability to regulate their emotions diminishes. They may also experience fatigue and changes in appetite.
You can make sure your dog is getting enough rest by:
Providing a comfortable, quiet place to sleep like a dog bed that’s in a secluded room
Exercising your dog regularly to wear out his mind and body
Feeding him nutritious dog food (some dog foods are full of fillers that provide little real nutritional value)
Scheduling regular physical check-ups with the vet
There is one last sleep issue we need to mention. Nearly 50 percent of dog owners share their bed with their pet. If you’re one of the many people who like to keep your dog nearby, try to reduce nighttime waking for you and your pet by making sure there’s room for everyone. Motion-absorbing mattresses or mattress toppers made from memory foam or latex can reduce movement transfer while a special place at the end of the bed can reduce bumping into one another.
If bed-sharing is getting in the way of your or your dog’s sleep, a dog bed kept next to the bed is a good solution. He’s still nearby, and you can reach down to pet him during the night. You may need a weighted blanket to take your dog’s place, but it won’t move around and wake you nearly as often. Plus, you’ll both be getting the rest you need.