Have you ever wondered why dogs sleep so much? It seems like they could sleep all day if given the chance. And, as it turns out, there’s a reason for that. Dogs sleep more than humans do because they have different sleep needs.
Let's explore the science behind why dogs sleep so much and what benefits they gain from all that shut-eye. We’ll also dispel some of the myths about dog's sleep and offer some tips on how to make sure your pup is getting enough rest.
Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?
Dogs snooze for an average of 12-14 hours per day, which is about twice as much as the average human. While we may think this is a lot, it's actually normal for dogs to sleep this much. They are built for short bursts of energy followed by periods of rest.
In addition to spending about 50% of their day sleeping, dogs spend another 30% of their day doing something called “loafing.” Loafing means that your dog is awake, but they are just hanging out and not really doing anything.
How much an individual dog sleeps is based on a variety of factors:
- Puppies and senior dogs require more rest than adult dogs; growing pups can sleep as much as 20 hours a day!
- Sick or overweight dog’s will spend more time asleep to maintain their energy levels
- Some breeds are predisposed to need more slumber than others – working breeds require more naps during a 24 hour period than lap dogs, large breeds require more than small dogs.
- Most dogs will choose to doze off when there’s nothing better to do. It’s a great way to spend tedious hours of alone time.
Dog Sleeping Habits
It’s important to note that dogs don’t sleep like humans do. Humans rest for one long burst of 8-10 hours every 24 hour period. Dogs spread their sleep out over the course of the day and nap for short periods of time more often, rather than one long night.
A dog sleeps when they need to, and listens to their body's signals to rest. Sleep helps their brain development, memory, learning capacity, and maintains the functioning of their immune system. Dogs who don’t get enough are prone to illness, infections, and bad moods.
Dogs experience slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep just like people. Dreaming can occur during REM sleep, and most dogs spend approximately 10% of their sleep time in this stage.
Why Does My Dog Sleep So Much?
A number of factors determine a dog's sleeping schedule. If it seems like your dog is sleeping more than normal, there are a few possible reasons why this may be the case.
Puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs all need different amounts of sleep to stay healthy. Puppies and senior dogs need a lot more sleep than adults, but for very different reasons.
Puppies grow up fast and there’s an extensive amount of learning and developing that takes place in their first year of life. In order to do this and maintain their energy for playing and learning, puppies have to sleep a lot. It’s not unusual for a puppy to sleep away about 20 hours a day. For most owners, this is good news! It gives both you and your puppy regular breaks from the challenges (and exhaustion) that come with puppyhood.
Adult dogs need to spend about 50% of their day sleeping. As they age, you may notice your dog’s sleeping habits change. Instead of sleeping for long periods of time, they will wake more often, but sleep more frequently.
Senior dogs usually sleep lighter and for shorter periods of time than younger dogs. They have difficulty sleeping for long periods and are woken more easily.
Breed and Lifestyle
The breed of your dog will determine their sleeping patterns to a certain extent, as will their lifestyle. Working dogs, like Border Collies, German Shepherds, or Therapy Dogs, have a job to do every day. They’re on their feet more than other dogs and they have to mentally engage for a good portion of their awake time. While these dogs tend to take advantage of downtime by snoozing, their sleeping habits will look very different from a sedentary dog.
Working dogs have sleep patterns that more closely mimic the patterns of their human companions, as they are required to be alert and active along with their owners. Sedentary dogs nap a lot, but rarely sleep for a long time.
Sedentary pets tend to snooze more than average, but it’s not because they need more sleep. It’s because they have lower energy levels and would prefer to lay around rather than be active.
Large breed dogs will require more sleep overall than small breed dogs because they require more energy to maintain their body’s functioning.
If your dog is home alone for long periods of time or doesn’t find their home very exciting, they may sleep because they have nothing better to do. If this is the case, excessive napping can be easily remedied by providing your dog with more mental and physical stimulation. Assuming they don’t have any underlying health conditions causing them to sleep more, a dog will always choose an exciting game of fetch over a nap.
The weather can also play a role in how much sleep your dog needs. Hot summer days can be exhausting and leave your dog needing an extra nap or two. It’s not an issue if your dog sleeps more when it’s hot, but it is important to give them a cool place to do so to avoid heatstroke.
Cold weather has a similar effect to heat. While your dog will need to get out and burn off energy, there is nothing quite as comforting as curling up in a warm blanket when they come inside.
Finally, changes in a dog’s daily routine or the addition of stressors in the home can cause them to sleep more due to mental stress. If you’ve recently moved to a new home, adopted another pet, or had a baby, it’s normal to find your dog is worn out. It can take a while to adjust to the change and go back to a normal sleep schedule.
Excessive snoozing can also be an indicator of a health problem. Many age-related issues and disease processes can cause a change in sleep patterns. So can separation anxiety or increased stress. On the flip side, a lack of sleep in dogs can lead to certain health problems, so it’s important that your dog gets their rest.
Some conditions that involve lethargy, or excessive tiredness in dogs include:
- Injuries and broken bones
- Stings or bites from poisonous insects
- Chronic pain, like arthritis
- Organ failure
- Internal parasites or worms
- Digestive system problems
Of course, most of these conditions have other symptoms that will accompany your dog’s tiredness. If your dog is experiencing symptoms of illness and is sleeping more than usual, it may be time for a vet checkup.
Dogs can sometimes suffer from sleep disorders that prevent them from getting enough sleep. REM sleep is critical to ensure rest and recovery. When a dog wakes up too often, they lose this sleep cycle and thus suffer from being extra-tired throughout the day. The most common sleep disorders for dogs are:
- Insomnia – An inability to fall asleep, waking and being unable to go back to sleep. This condition is most common in senior dogs and can be caused by bladder issues that require older dogs to go out more frequently.
- Narcolepsy – A rare disorder that causes disruption in a dog’s REM cycle. It can include “sleep attacks” that cause sudden paralysis and muscle weakness.
- Sleep Apnea – Sleep Apnea is most often characterized by snoring. It’s most common in obese dogs and may cause a temporary disruption in breathing during sleep. This wakes up the dog and prevents them from getting uninterrupted REM sleep.
Sleep deprivation can lead to physical, emotional, and behavioral problems in dogs. If you think your dog has a sleep disorder, is getting too much, or not enough sleep, it’s important to talk with your vet. They can help you develop a plan to help your dog sleep better and treat any underlying issues.
Lack of Good Nutrition
Dogs who are lacking in certain nutrients may have difficulty maintaining their energy levels and sleep more than they should. Even if your dog prefers a slow-paced lifestyle, it’s important to feed them a complete, balanced diet that is appropriate for their breed, size, and activity level.
Signs Of A Dog Sleeping Too Much
In most cases, it’s normal for a dog to spend most of their day asleep. There are a few signs that can indicate your dog is sleeping too much:
- There is a change in their sleeping habits
- Your dog chooses sleep over an activity they would normally be interested in
- Sleep is preventing them from eating and drinking properly
- You have difficulty waking your dog in the morning
- Your dog falls asleep suddenly during play sessions
- Your dog wakes up frightened
Increased sleep comes with other symptoms, like:
- Unwillingness to walk
- Increases or decreases in urination, defecation, or eating
- Sudden behavior problems
- Staring at walls
- Increased fearfulness or aggression
- Drooling, pacing, or signs of anxiety
Restlessness and Inability to Sleep in Dogs
Age plays a huge role in sleep for dogs and senior dogs sometimes have trouble falling or staying asleep. Dogs can suffer from canine cognitive dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s in humans) and this condition causes dogs to experience sundowning. This means that as nightfall occurs, they get confused and restless. Dogs going through sundowning tend to pace, become anxious, and have difficulty settling.
In most cases, sundowning can be controlled with medication or placing nightlights next to your dog’s favorite sleeping space. The TV or radio left on at low volume can help prevent some of the anxiety these dogs experience.
How Fi Dog Collars Can Help You Monitor Your Dog’s Sleeping Habits
Given that sleep plays such an important role in your dog’s health, it makes sense that you would want to keep track of their sleep habits. Tracking sleep gives you information on whether your dog is getting too much or too little sleep and helps you know if there’s a sudden change in their sleep patterns.
It can be difficult to track whether your dog is getting a healthy amount of sleep since they spend so much time napping – and do most of it while you’re away from the house. To help you monitor your pets sleep, Fi has released the Series 3 smart collar. The collar’s onboard motion sensor lets you track sleep habits and provides you with valuable metrics on their patterns.
While Fi’s sleep tracker is one of the first of its kind for dogs, it provides information on a timeline that looks almost identical to human-equivalent sleep trackers for your smartphone. This information can be invaluable to identifying potential health problems in your pet and instantly tells you when there is a change in your dog’s sleep. The smart collar provides you with quantitative data regarding your dog’s sleep.
On average, dogs sleep between 12-14 hours per day, or about 50% of the time. Their sleep patterns look a little different than humans. Dogs sleep more frequently, but for shorter lengths of time than people do. Your dog’s breed, size, health status, age, and activity level all play a role in how much sleep they need. Changes in dog sleep patterns can also be an indicator of health problems. It can be difficult to accurately monitor how much dogs sleep, so Fi has released the first sleep tracker for dogs. It provides quantifiable data regarding your dog’s sleep patterns to help you identify a problem.
For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.
Want to know more about TryFi.com? The Fi Dog Collar is a GPS tracking collar that not only keeps track of your dog’s location, activity levels, and sleep patterns, but it also alerts you if your dog escapes your backyard. This is the fastest way to find your dog after an escape. Try the Fi Dog Collar today!