Dogs Sleep; Everything You Need to Know

There are about two or three other things more adorable than a sleeping dog or puppy. Other than the cute showoff, dogs sleep because it is vital for their health. Your dog’s sleeping habits also cue you in on their level of happiness and contentment.

How much does my dog need to sleep? Is he dreaming? Should I let him in my bed? Are dog sleep disorders a real thing? Each and every question will be answered in this piece to help you understand your canine’s sleep and facilitate a better nap time.

How much sleep does your dog need?

Being a dog owner, you may have noticed that sleeping is one of your dog’s enjoyable pass times. Whether it’s at the foot of the couch or outside under a shade, your dog can quickly get comfortable in all sorts of places and doze off at any time of the day.

Generally, dogs spend a little over half their day asleep, ranging from 12 to 14 hours. However, the amount of sleep your dog requires depends on various factors. These factors include:

The age

Puppies and older dogs spend more time asleep than middle-age dogs. Puppies can spend between 18 to 20 hours sleeping. This helps boost their growth. Older dogs spend roughly the same amount of time sleeping as well because they are low on energy and easily get exhausted.

Size and breed

Bigger dogs have been known to need more sleep than smaller dogs. It may not apply to all dogs, but larger dog breeds tend to sleep for about 18 hours a day, even in their middle age.

Activity levels

Contrary to what you’d expect, active dogs tend to sleep less than dogs that are less active. An active dog refers to a dog with a more scheduled lifestyle, such as working dogs.

The Science behind Canine Sleep

Scientists have shown that the brain waves dogs emit when sleeping are very similar to those humans emit. Dogs, just like people, go through different stages of sleep. These stages are the short wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM), also known as deep sleep. Short wave sleep refers to the period right after falling asleep when the body and the mind start to relax. Deep sleep, on the other hand, is that part of sleep when the brain is more active and is dreaming. Dogs can enter REM sleep in as soon as 20 minutes. It is easy to detect when your dog is in REM sleep because this when you see him twitching and having involuntary body movements. Some dogs even make whimpers and quiet barks when in this deep state sleep.

Since your dog can enter the REM state so much quicker, it also implies that he experiences shorter sleep cycles. Therefore, dogs do not need longs chunks of uninterrupted sleep like humans. Canines can accumulate the sleep they need through small chunks throughout the day.

As a result of having shorter sleep cycles, dogs tend to be easily woken, especially when in short wave sleep.

Should you wake your dog up?

Experts advise against waking your dog up, especially when he is in deep sleep when it is avoidable. However, even if your dog wakes up in the middle of his sleep cycle, he can quickly recover the lost sleep sometime during the day just as quickly.

When is it too much sleep?

Keeping track of the hours your dog has spent sleeping can be quite challenging. Fortunately, there are signs to watch out for in order to maintain a fine line between normal and abnormal sleep.

Difficulty in breathing

If during sleep, your dog experiences breathing problems such as a lapse in breathing, then the issue could be of more significant concern.


Having slept for 12 to 14 hours, your dog should feel fresh and energized. If he spends a good part of his day asleep but seems to lack energy when he is awake, then there may be an underlying problem.

Accompanying body problems

If your dog’s seemingly excessive sleeping coincides with other body changes or habits, it is a cause to worry. Such changes may include poor appetite, diarrhea, itchiness, and hair loss. It could be a sign of a significant problem.

What may cause a change in your dog’s sleeping pattern?

It is vital to consult your vet when your dog’s sleeping patterns change. A vet will help determine what is normal, what isn’t, and what the causes could be. Some of the reasons for a change in sleep patterns could be:


Just like humans, dogs also get depressed. Depression could lead to withdrawal and excessive energy.

Lack of adequate food and water

Poor nutrition can affect a dog’s energy levels. When a dog has low energy levels, they may spend more time sleeping.


A dog experiencing anxiety may not sleep well. Anxiety can arise due to many factors and may easily go unnoticed.

Poor exercise regiment

When your dog doesn’t have enough exercise, he doesn’t burn off all the energy he has accumulated from eating; therefore, it will affect his sleeping pattern. He probably will not sleep well.

How do you get your dog to sleep better at night?

Despite the number of naps your dog enjoys throughout the day, he should be able to sleep even better at night. If he is restless at night, here a number of tips that will calm him down and enable him to sleep better.


A good exercise regimen helps burn excess energy keeping it low and boosts your dog’s health. One great way to ensure your dog is calm and ready for bedtime is to enjoy a good exercise session during the day. A walk to and from the park, a walk around your block, or two or a fetch exercise would be a great way to exercise and calm him down for a good night’s sleep.

Good bed                                                                   

An orthopedic bed is carefully designed to relieve the pressure that arises from dogs lying down, especially if they have muscle pain or joint pain. Retailers have the tendency to claim their dog beds are orthopedic but aren’t, so make sure it is certified.

Develop a routine

Regular routines help manage your dog’s anxiety levels. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog should sleep at the same time every day but have continuity in your dog’s daily activities such as walks, eating time, and play.

A good diet

Ensure your canine friend is enjoying a balanced diet during every meal and getting all the necessary nutrients. Any questions about your dog’s diet can be professionally answered by your vet.

Calming aids

Calming agents are a safe alternative to ensure your dog gets a good night’s sleep. When getting a supplement to help calm down your dog’s anxiety, make sure you consult your vet to ensure it’s right for your dog. An excellent example of a healthy supplement is the CBD infused coconut oil. Anxiety blankets are also great at making dogs relax and easily fall asleep. When buying calming aids, make sure they are dog products.

Do Dogs Dream?

As a pet owner, you have probably wondered what exactly is going on in your dog’s mind when they are asleep. Particularly, if you have seen your dog pawing at something when asleep or barking, your curiosity must have peaked to “Is my dog dreaming?”

Well, the answer is yes. Scientific research has discovered that dogs do dream along the lines of human dreams. Since a dog’s brain waves are similar to human brain waves when in similar stages of sleep, researchers then extrapolated that dogs are likely to have a dream. Dreaming occurs typically during the REM stage of sleep when brain activity is detected to increase.

Just like humans, dogs are thought to dream from the front mind. Their dreams are likely to involve things that involve their daily activities such as protecting you, rolling around in the dog park with other dogs, and chasing birds.

In conclusion, we don’t really know with certainty that dogs dream, but accumulated research and evidence supports the theory.

Sleep Disorders

Dogs that experience sleep disorders may cry whine or frequently wake up during the night. If you notice your dog being sluggish or look disoriented when doing a daily task, he is probably experiencing a sleep disorder. Sleep deprivation can build up your dog’s stress hormones resulting in aggressive behavior. Lack of sleep also weakens your dog’s immune system, thereby increasing the risk of infection.

Common types of sleep disorders for dogs and their remedies are:


Insomnia in dogs can result from physical health issues like itchiness, pain, and causes persistent urination. Cognitive dysfunction in older dogs causes brain degeneration that can disrupt sleeping patterns causing insomnia.

A vet can help determine the underlying problem and prescribe the right treatment. Another strategy for relieving insomnia is increasing your dog’s physical activity and making the bed more comfortable. Aromatherapy helps set the right environment for good sleep, even for your dog.


Narcolepsy is a nervous system disorder that affects young dogs. It is caused by a genetic disorder that leads to deficient levels of hypocretin. Hypocretin is a chemical that helps preserve normal sleep patterns and alertness. Narcolepsy may cause inactivity, immune system dysfunction, and obesity.

If your dog has narcolepsy, he may collapse suddenly on his side and fall asleep after physical activity or excitement. The dog will appear to be in a deep sleep. Petting and loud noises will wake your dog up. Gentle petting and comforting words help lessen the duration and severity of the episodes.

Sleep apnea

Deep snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea in dogs causes breathing problems during sleep. If your dog experiences sleep apnea, he may momentarily stop breathing and wake up. Due to interrupted sleep, your dog may be more tired than usual during the day. Sleep apnea commonly affects obese dogs.

Your vet may prescribe a weight loss diet for your dog. A practical way to help open up your dog airways is with humidifiers and steam. It is easily treatable and should be managed before it becomes severe.

REM behavior disorder

Have you noticed your dog pawing or softly barking in his sleep? He may have a REM behavior disorder, which results in physical activity during sleep. However, for some dogs, it is a little severe, and he may get violent. Dogs who experience REM sleeping disorder wake up normally without a trace of disorientation or confusion. Before giving your dog any medication, consult your doctor.

Sleeping Positions

It is important to pay attention to the position your dog frequently sleeps in. Sleeping positions may vary due to where they are sleeping, soreness, or injury. Watch out for signs that depict your dog is in pain. Every sleeping position often depicts your dog’s mental or physical state. Understanding what they mean is important if you are to give your dog the best care.

Here are popular sleeping positions and what they imply:

Sleeping on their side

This sleeping position typically exposes your dog’s vital organs. If your dog tends to favor this position, it is means he trusts you due to the strong familial bonds you share. It also shows that he is carefree and happy. Since their limbs are free in this position, you may notice your dog twitching and even kicking. It is normal, and you shouldn’t be alarmed.

Sleeping when curled up

When your dog is asleep in a curled up nose-to-tail position, his vital parts are protected. This position helps conserve warmth and makes it easier to get up quickly. It may seem like an uncomfortable position, but it is perfect for your dog, especially in the winter due to the cold. The position is a little restrictive; therefore, you won’t see your dog twitching a lot. Shy dogs prefer this sleeping position.

Sleeping on their tummy in a Superman stance

This position is also referred to as the Superman position. The Superman position allows your dog to quickly jump on their paws. Most high energy dogs and puppies like this position since it will enable them a chance to get back in action if they were playing without missing out on much.

Passed out or sleeping on their back

The passed out position exposes your dog’s belly helping his body to cool off. The fur around your dog’s belly is thinner, and his paws have sweat glands, exposing these parts will help him beat off the heat. The position indicates that your dog is comfortable around you and trusts you. It also means he or she needs their beauty sleep.

Back to back with another pet or you

When your dog sleeps back to back with other pets or snuggles up to you, it means they want to be close to you and completely trust you. It’s a loving and affectionate way of showing they are comfortable with their napping buddy.

Should you Sleep with your Dog?

Are you contemplating whether or not to let your dog into your bed? Slightly less than half of all pet owners allow their pets into their beds or bedrooms. Researchers have discovered that there are many benefits to co-sleeping with your dog.

Did you know that sleeping with your dog in either your bed or bedroom isn’t a new phenomenon? Some traditional communities and cultures considered sleeping with your animal as useful. One such culture is the Aboriginal Australians who slept with their dogs for protection from evil spirits and warmth. It is true there are adverse effects of sleeping with your dog.  Allergies can get worse; the quality of your sleep is also affected by many more.

Here are both the pros and cons of sleeping with your dog:

Benefits of sleeping with your dog

Warmth and comfort

The rhythmic breathing and warmth of your dog have a great soothing effect that can easily lull you to sleep. Scientifically, pets have a higher body temperature than us. In effect, they can act as an electric blanket

Help reduce stress and anxiety

Emotional turmoil has been known to cause severe bouts of insomnia. These emotional imbalances such as depression, stress, and anxiety can be minimized when you sleep with your dog. Dogs make you feel relieved and calm hence counteracting anxiety and stress. Simply touching your dog increases the oxytocin levels in your brain.

A greater sense of security

Safety and protection are some of the commonly cited reasons for sleeping with a dog. Keeping your furry friend close by when you at your most vulnerable state helps provide a greater sense of security, especially if you stay alone or your partner or family are away.

Greater health benefits

Human to dog interaction has been scientifically proven to help lower blood pressure, decrease hypertension, reduce allergy likelihood later in life for children, lower cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Stronger emotional bond

Your dog enjoys being close to you; sleeping with you is a great treat for them. Sleeping with a human partner increases intimacy, and the same applies to your dog. If you have a tight work schedule, then your dog spends a lot of time alone. Sleeping together is a great way to make your dog feel like part of the pack.

Disadvantages of sleeping with your dog

Aggravate asthma and allergies

If you or your partner have allergies, you shouldn’t sleep with your dog. Sleeping with your dog will spread allergens throughout the room, thereby worsening a person’s allergic symptoms.

Dominance, territorial aggression

If your dog has territorial aggression, then it is a bad idea to sleep with him or her. Sleeping with your dog may reinforce the notion that he is dominant and deserves to be treated as such.

Sleep interruption

Dogs snore and move a lot when sleeping, especially during REM sleep. They may grunt, kick, or snore. If you sleep lightly, you should consider this before inviting your dog to your bed. Dogs are polyphasic sleepers and have three sleep cycles per night, unlike people. They have a habit of snoring that may interrupt your sleep.

Negatively affect your love life

Before allowing your dog into your bed, it is wise to first agree with your partner that it is the next best step. You may end up strengthening the bond with your dog at the cost of your partner.

In conclusion, if you intend to sleep with your dog here are some things to keep in mind:

House-train your dog first

It is crucial to ensure your dog is safe while in your bed. House train him on how to co-sleep to minimize the risk of accidents in bed when sleeping.

Hygiene and cleanliness

Have your dog checked for parasites and dandruff often if you intend to sleep with him. Taking good care of your dog’s hygiene and health will decrease the chances of transmitting fleas and parasites as you sleep together.

First, train your dog to sleep alone.

Being creatures of habit, dogs will easily get used to sleeping with you quickly. If there comes a need t change the routine, it may be hard for him to adjust. So, train him to first sleep on his own dog bed or crate. This way, it is easier to get back to this arrangement if the need arises.

Research has shown that the benefits of sleeping your dog greatly outweigh the disadvantages. In the end, owners who allow their dogs into bed with them already understand the inconvenience and disturbance and yet deem it worthwhile.

A good night’s sleep helps in the development of your dog’s brain, learning capabilities, immune system, and memory. Your dog is a social sleeper, not a nocturnal one, so let him snooze off whenever he needs to. Now that you are adequately enlightened on your dog’s sleeping patterns, positions, and whether or not to let him into your bed, you can now happily let your sleeping dog just lie.

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