Many first-time dog owners are surprised at the amount of time that their dogs spend sleeping. To them, it may seem that their dogs do little other than sleep. Well, dogs do sleep longer than us. They spend 20 percent of their time sleeping, 50 percent of their time snoozing, and they are awake for 30 percent of their time. There are certain other factors which affect the amount of time that dogs spend sleeping. Let us try to answer why do dogs sleep so much and learn some more about the sleeping patterns of dogs.
How much do dogs sleep?
Dogs sleep for about 12 to 14 hours every day. Puppies who are much more active expend much more energy when they are awake, so they spend 18 to 20 hours sleeping. Older dogs also spend more time asleep, and so do certain breeds of bigger dogs.
Dogs do not have a fixed sleep schedule. They can stay wide awake for an extended period if there is action and go back to sleep when they are bored.
- Suggested Read – Why do cats sleep so much?
What are the factors that affect a dog’s sleep?
How much your dog sleeps can depend on many different things? Let us discuss a few of them:
1. The age factor
As discussed earlier, puppies spend a lot more time sleeping because they tend to exhaust their energy playing when they are awake. Older dogs tire out much faster, so they too need more time to relax and conserve their energy.
Bigger dogs like Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, St Bernards tend to sleep much more than smaller dog breeds. These dogs tire more easily, and they need more energy to be active.
3. Working dogs
Working dogs like police dogs or farm dogs sleep a lot less than regular pets. These dogs need to be mentally and physically attentive the whole day, and they can do that very well. Of course, they do need some time off to restore their energy levels.
4. Life events
Just like us, dogs too are affected by the life events. Loss of a loved one or change of location can trouble them and alter their sleeping patterns. Any simple change in their routine can also affect them.
Diet can also play an essential role in your dogs sleeping habits. Low-quality dog food will not be very nutritious and can make your canine lethargic. Give your pet nutrition-dense food that keeps his energy levels up.
Though dogs do not follow a very fixed sleeping pattern, if you see a very drastic change in the sleep, it is better to get in touch with your vet. Change in diet, heart condition or thyroid, can be some of the reasons why your dog is sleeping more than average.
- Suggested read: Why is My Dog Restless at Night?
Do dogs experience sleep cycles?
Dogs experience two stages of sleep cycles – rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow wave sleep (SWS). The SWS is the early stage of the sleep when the dog is just about dozing off.
During this phase, the mental functions slow down, but the body is still engaged. During SWS your dog’s breathing slows down, heart rate decreases and the blood pressure drops.
The REM stage is the deeper stage of sleep. During this stage, though the eyes are closed, you can see the eyeballs moving rapidly. Though we spend 25 percent of our sleep in this phase, dogs spend only 10 percent of their sleep in REM.
Scientists have analysed the fast wave patterns of the brain during this stage and come to conclude that dogs also dream during this stage.
- Suggested reading: What do Dogs Dream About? – Find out What They Dream?
Is exercise essential for sleep?
Exercise is essential for dogs. The dogs that are not given enough mental and physical stimulation during the day sleep a lot longer than the ones that are active. If the dog sleeps a lot during the day, he will not sleep well during the night.
All dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Bigger dogs need more training than the smaller ones. You must give your pet some games and toys that will stimulate his brain.
What can cause excessive sleeping?
Though most dogs sleep 10 to 14 hours a day, a sudden change in the sleeping pattern of your pet can indicate a health issue. Canine depression, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can make your dog sleep more than usual.
Many infectious diseases like parvovirus, distemper, rabies and Lyme disease can also turn your pet lethargic. Consult your vet if your notice sudden increase in your pet’s sleep.
What can cause lack of sleep?
Consult your vet if you feel your pet isn’t sleeping enough. Some ailments are linked to lack of sleep in canines. Allergies, hyperthyroidism and even anxiety can cause restlessness in dogs.
Physical discomfort in older dogs can cause lack of sleep. Find a good quality supportive dog bed for your dog.
Too hot or too cold weather can also cause lack of sleep. Ensure that your dog is well covered so that it can sleep well.
Dogs love their sleep and can sleep up to 14 hours a day. As long as your pet is eating well and is physically and mentally active, long sleeping hours should not be a cause for concern. If you see sudden changes in your dog’s sleeping pattern, do get him checked by the vet.