Cats may have captured the term “cat nap,” but every good dog loves a good nap too. There’s a good chance you’ve caught your dog sleeping at odd times during the day. You’ve probably also noticed them sleeping all over the place, and in funny positions. Maybe you’ve heard them making strange sounds or seen them twitching or moving as they snooze. The way they sleep seems a lot different from how we do it. But have you ever wondered how dogs sleep?
The Sleeping Habits Of Your Dog
Unlike us, many animals sleep more than once every 24 hours. That’s true for your dog too. The term for this pattern of sleeping is polyphasic sleep. Dogs sleep in a different pattern than we do, and they tend to sleep a lot more than us. The amount will vary depending on how old your dog it and how active they are.
But in total, dogs tend to sleep between 12 and 18 hours every single day. Bigger dogs sleep more than smaller dogs do. They’re pretty flexible with their sleeping. Sometimes it seems like they can go right from running hard to deep sleep and back again in a short period of time!
The Stages of Sleep
What exactly goes on during their sleep? Sleep plays a lot of important roles. It’s restorative and helps a dog recover from physical activity. But it also helps them with learning and memory, growth and development, and it keeps their immune system in top shape.
Like us, dogs go through sleep cycles with 4 different stages of sleep during each cycle. Stages 1, 2, and 3 are all considered ‘non-rapid eye movement sleep,’ or ‘Non-REM.’ After these stages, they transition into the infamous REM sleep. In REM sleep, their brains are quite active, and this is where most of the dreaming happens.
Dogs only spend around 10% of their sleeping time in REM sleep, whereas we spend approximately 20% of our sleep in this stage. Your dog will enter the REM stage pretty quickly after falling asleep, after only 20 minutes or so. This is when you’ll start to notice some strange breathing if you’re paying attention to them.
And when your dog is dreaming in doggy dreamland, you might notice them acting out some of their dreams! Sometimes they’ll make noises or move their paws in the air as though they’re running. This is all pretty normal.
Sleeping Too Much?
Plenty of people worry about whether their dog is sleeping too much. But it’s rare for a dog to be getting too much sleep. Anything between 12-18 hours is perfectly fine. You should be more worried if they’re not sleeping enough! Yes, dogs can suffer from too little sleep.
When under high stress, dogs can have trouble sleeping, just like us. This is because stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol into the body. Cortisol interrupts the normal sleep process by causing you to be awake.
Disturbed sleep is a natural response to stress because you can’t solve a stressful situation if you’re fast asleep. But too little sleep isn’t good for your dog, just like it isn’t good for you. If you notice your dog isn’t sleeping as much as you think they should be, think about whether they’re stressed and what you can do to help.
Your Dog’s Sleep Environment
It might seem like your dog can sleep just about anywhere. But they like a nice, comfortable, and familiar sleeping space as much as humans do. Every dog is different, but there are some things that most dogs will prefer. A comfortable bed is a must for any dog, especially as they age. A cooler environment is a good idea for any sleeping dog.
Dogs tend to have higher body temperatures than we do, so they don’t mind a cool (but not cold!) sleeping environment. They don’t sweat to cool themselves down as we do. The way they keep cool is by panting, to breathe out the heat. But they can’t sleep and gasp at the same time, so a cooler environment is better than a hot one.
Although dogs can sleep pretty well during the day when it’s light out, they still need a dark night-time sleep environment. If there’s too much light, their body will react as though it’s daytime and they won’t sleep as deeply. So removing excessive lighting and electronics from their sleep area is a good idea.
Should Your Dog Sleep In Bed With You?
Lots of dog owners let their dogs sleep in bed with them. There are many reasons why: they’re warm, cuddly, and relaxing. They can also be protective and make us feel safe. And being around dogs makes us happy, whether during the day or at night time when we’re sleeping.
The only potential downside is that they may disturb your sleep during the night.
Remember, they sleep differently than we do. They wake up and move a lot more frequently! So if your dog sleeps in bed with you, it might affect your sleep. But if you don’t notice a difference, it can be just fine.
Top Tips for Top Quality Sleep
These are the tips that help dogs sleep well.
Create a Routine
Doing some of the same things at the same time every day can train your dog’s sleep-wake cycle. You don’t want them excited and energetic when you’re trying to go to sleep! Keep to similar feeding, walking, and sleeping times every day.
Be Sleep-Environmentally Friendly
As described above, the environment in which your dog sleeps will affect their sleep quality. Keep it cool, comfortable, dark, and quiet.
Let Them Exercise Regularly
One of the reasons dogs need sleep is to rest and recover from a hard day’s work. You know how good it feels to sleep well after you’ve worked hard. If your dog exercises regularly, they’ll sleep well regularly too.
There’s a lot about your dog’s sleeping that’s like to your sleeping. They might love sleep even more than you do! But there are a few key differences, too. Knowing the differences can help ensure your best friend gets the best sleep – the sleep they deserve. When dogs sleep well, they’re happy. And when they’re happy, you’re happy!
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