Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

by Hannah Roundy

Why do dogs sleep so much? You might think your pup is being lazy–but it turns out that dogs need a lot of rest.

Most dogs spend about half of their day sleeping. Even high-energy pups can be found napping for a good portion of the day. So why do dogs sleep so much? You might think your pup is being lazy–but it turns out that dogs need a lot of rest. 

Why Do Dogs Need So Much Sleep?

It may seem like your dog dozes off too much, but their sleeping pattern is just a bit different from humans. Dogs are classified as polyphasic sleepers, meaning they take short naps throughout the day and night instead of sleeping all at once as humans do. As dogs get older, they learn to sleep more at night and during darker parts of the day. 

Rapid eye movement (REM) is the deepest stage of sleep. REM is when our body reacts to dreams, our brainwaves slow down and our eyes move under closed eyelids. It’s the most difficult to wake someone up when they fall into the REM cycle. 

One of the reasons why dogs need so much sleep throughout the day is that they only spend about 10% of their sleeping time in REM. For comparison, humans spend roughly 25% of their nightly sleep in REM. It’s easier for dogs to be woken up which is why they take multiple naps during the day. 

How Many Hours Do Dogs Usually Sleep?

The average adult dog sleeps about 12-14 hours a day–but the correct number is different for each dog based on a few factors. 

Older dogs typically need more sleep than they did when they were younger. This is mostly because senior dogs are aging and losing energy. 

Even though they can have high energy levels, puppies require more sleep than adult dogs. Think of puppies just like newborn babies–they need so much sleep because their bodies are constantly growing. In the first 8-18 weeks of a dog’s life, they sleep about 18-20 hours per day. 

Breeds are another factor in why your dog sleeps so much. Large breed dogs require more energy to keep their bodies going, so they tend to sleep more than small and medium breed dogs. 

Some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to sleeping more often than others. Many large and giant breeds like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Mastiffs just love to sleep. But more active breeds like Border Collies or Australian Shepherds are more interested in playing and running than sleeping.

Weight and Body Condition
The Spruce Pets says that overweight dogs sleep more than average-sized dogs do. Similar to senior and large breed dogs, it just takes more energy for overweight dogs to move their bodies, so they tire out quickly. 

How to Know If Your Dog Sleeps Too Much

We know why do dogs sleep so much, but how can you identify “too much” sleep? Remember that sleeping is different from “loafing”. When a dog loafs, it means they are awake but aren’t really doing anything. This could be time looking out the window, cuddling with you or just sitting around. Dogs will spend about 30% of their time awake loafing. 

Sleep cycle shifts can be the first sign of your dog becoming sick or developing a serious health condition. If you notice that your dog is asleep for 5-6 hours in the morning and in the afternoon, it could be a sign of poor health. Conditions like heart disease, hypothyroidism, kidney disease and diabetes can disrupt your dog’s sleeping patterns. For this reason, veterinarians recommend paying close attention to any changes in your dog’s sleeping patterns. 

It’s helpful to pay attention to how your dog reacts to waking up, as well. If they don’t have the motivation to wake up or do daily activities, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Consider talking with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog sleeping too much. 

How Can I Help My Dog Sleep Better?

Since dogs don’t have long REM cycles, it’s normal for them to wake up often in the middle of the night. They may need to go potty or crave a drink of water. But this can be inconvenient for you if your dog is constantly waking you up. 

If you have a puppy or younger dog, train them to adjust their sleeping time to a schedule. Try to keep them awake during the day with playtime, walks and feeding (but ensure they are still getting enough rest). Take them potty right before bed so they don’t wake in the middle of the night with a full bladder. Be patient during this process! 

Ensuring your dog gets plenty of exercise is important to their sleep health, as well. Try to take them on daily walks and schedule in some playtime to tire them out before bed. Make sure they have a comfortable place to sleep, as well, like a dog bed. A complete and balanced diet like Sundays can also help your dog’s overall health and help them sleep better. 

Consult your veterinarian if your dog still has trouble sleeping. They may be able to help with sleeping aids or medication. 

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