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How does a dog’s sleep pattern differ from a human’s?

April 24, 2019 | by verity.ramus@hooknortonvets.co.uk | Pets

Though dogs and humans are both mammals and social creatures, dogs and humans don’t sleep the same. But you might not really notice, because dogs have such adaptable sleep patterns, they may sleep when you’re asleep, not at home, or otherwise not likely to engage with them.

Dog sleep needs.
Dogs sleep much more than humans, typically about half the day. Most dogs will sleep an average of 12 to 14 hours. But like humans, age and health can play a factor. Even breed can make a difference. Puppies may sleep up to 20 hours a day (that’s basically all day if you’re counting), and elderly dogs might sleep more than other adults.

How much a dog sleeps generally depends on their age, size, breed, activity, and health. A large breed or sedentary dog might sleep more than a smaller breed or working dog.

When dogs sleep.
You might think dogs just sleep at night, since they probably sleep when you do. The fact is, dogs can be fairly flexible in how they get their sleep. Typically, pet dogs will sleep at night while their owners are sleeping. But that’s only about eight hours. They can make up the rest of their remaining four to six hours of sleep needs by resting while you’re otherwise engaged. You might be out at work, running errands, or relaxing at home. But typically, they’ll find additional time to sleep during the day to add to their night time sleep and take care of their full sleep needs.

Dog sleep stages.
Dogs don’t always get to sleep in long stretches like humans do, so they get to REM sleep (deep sleep) in a hurry. Humans enter REM sleep about 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep. In dogs, REM sleep occurs about 10 minutes in. You may know when your dog is in REM sleep, as this is when they dream, sometimes with outward signs like barking or running in their sleep, twitching, or moving their eyes.

But don’t be fooled into thinking dogs are in an especially deep state of sleep and aren’t likely to wake up. Dogs are almost always sleeping in a state of readiness, so they’re ready to wake up quickly for defence.

How you can help your dog sleep healthily.
Generally, dogs will figure out how to get the sleep they need all on their own. As they are flexible sleepers, they can sleep at night and add on time during the day with naps. And as they can enter a stage of deep sleep almost immediately, it’s not unusual for dogs to sleep in short spurts throughout the day to get the sleep they need.

Of course, some dogs can struggle with sleep, just like humans. If your dog seems unusually tired or unable to sleep well (or sleeping much more than usual), they could be experiencing health issues. If you’re noticing changes in how your dog sleeps, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about your concerns.

But if your dog is otherwise healthy, you can support good sleep habits by giving your dog a healthy place to sleep, offering them a healthy diet, stimulation, and activity throughout the day & maintaining regular vet checks to rule out major health issues.

This post was written by sleep professional Jackie Kepler at MattressReviews.net. She enjoys sleeping with cats, but sleeps on a king size bed because she needs her space, too.

Written by verity.ramus@hooknortonvets.co.uk

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