Well, a number of things can come into play when we’re talking about dog sleep – there’s the individual dog, their breed, their age, and whether they have any medical conditions which dictate how much sleep a dog needs.
Then there are external factors, like the weather, boredom, stress, and noise that might change how much a dog sleeps day to day. So, let’s look at dog resting habits and learn a little more as pet parents.
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How much sleep do dogs need?
According to some studies, dogs sleep on average about 10 hours in every 24-hour period, with a range of 7.7hours to 16 hours. However, other studies disagree, finding that it is completely normal for dogs to sleep 60-80% of the night (8pm to 8am) and 3-28% of daytime hours.
Dogs biologically need more sleep than humans, although we’re not sure why. These numbers are complicated by whether you consider dozing or drowsiness as sleep or not – some studies include it, while others do not. While your dog may look like they’re sleeping, they may not be!
Like human children, puppies need more sleep, and younger dogs are more likely to have it in short ‘naps’ throughout the day. And dogs might also need to sleep when they’re ill, or when they’ve had a lot of stimulation.
On the other hand, dogs have less sleep when they’re stressed or uncomfortable, such as if the temperature is too cold.
What’s clear is that how much sleep dogs need varies hugely, depending on their age and medical status. And the amount of sleep that dogs need and how much they get are two different things – like humans, some dogs will rest longer than they theoretically need, especially if they’re bored.
On the other hand, some dogs (especially old dogs or anxious dogs) might struggle to get enough rest at night and might need medical sleep aids like sleeping pills.
What causes dogs to sleep more?
If there’s been a recent increase in the amount of sleep your dog seems to be getting, there are a number of potential causes:
Age – puppies and senior dogs sleep more than adult dogs
Boredom – dogs may sleep if they don’t have anything else to do
High mental load – if your dog spends a lot of its time on high alert due to separation anxiety or even stimulating activities like competitive games, they’ll likely sleep in their downtime
Heart, blood, or lung disease – dogs become lethargic when they aren’t getting enough oxygen and may lie down and sleep to conserve energy
Arthritis and joint pain – arthritis doesn’t actually increase sleep needs, but dogs will spend a lot of time lying down so it might look like they’re asleep
Obesity – overweight dogs struggle to move around and may find it easier to lie down and sleep
Other illnesses – lots of illnesses can cause increased sleep needs, from minor viruses to serious chronic diseases. There are too many possible symptoms to list them all but if your dog is sleeping more and appears to be out of sorts, especially if they don’t want to walk when offered, it’s a good idea to schedule a vet visit, just in case.
Why do dogs sleep so much during the day?
If you’ve noticed your dog sleeps a lot during the day, you aren’t alone. But they may not be getting a much-needed 40 winks after all. In fact, dogs have a diurnal circadian rhythm, just like humans, meaning they get most of their sleep at night. It’s likely that this is partly due to a long period of domestication – they’ve fitted into our lifestyle!
So, if dogs are supposedly diurnal, why do you see your dogs sleeping during the day? Well, most adult dogs do not need to sleep during the day. They can get most – or all of – their sleep needs to be met by sleeping at night, with perhaps a short nap in the day to catch up.
If you’re noticing your dog’s sleeping habits changing and he is sleeping during the day this it’s likely because you’re at home, too. And whatever you’re doing (whether it’s watching tv on a day off, scrolling through your phone, or cooking something delicious), it’s likely your dog can’t participate. Instead, they retreat to their bed and snooze, saving energy for a walk later.
On the other hand, if you had a very active lifestyle, and you spent the day hiking, your dog would love to go too. They don’t need to sleep during the day, they often do because they have no other choice. While wild canids might hunt, gnaw on a bone, or play with the youngsters in a pack, your dog’s world is limited to what you provide.
Why does my dog sleep so much when it gets older?
Dogs may sleep more as they get older because they have an increased need for sleep. Sleep helps us (and our dogs) learn and heal, so it stands to reason that your adult dog might need to sleep more as they age.
However, older dogs are also thought to have a less good sleep. Sleep-wake fragmentation and less REM sleep mean that they sleep less well that a puppy or younger dog.
It’s possible that most dogs sleep more as they get older to take into account that their sleep quality has decreased so much. In other words, they need to sleep longer, because the sleep they are getting as senior dogs isn’t as good as opposed to a puppy with fewer ailments.
Weather: Why do dogs sleep more when it’s hot or raining?
What about when the weather changes? If you’ve noticed your dog sleeping more in the warm weather you’re probably wondering if that’s part of your dog’s normal sleep patterns.
Just like us, our dogs can become slightly drowsy in warm weather – their blood pressure drops and their hypothalamus (the organ that maintains a constant body temperature) works hard to keep the body cool. This can lead to drowsiness and a lower energy level. Being too hot also causes sleep quality to drop, so your dog may be snoozing more to catch up on missed Zs!
On the other hand, when it’s raining it’s more likely that your dog is sleeping due to boredom. They know it’s less likely that you’re going to take them for a walk or play in the garden, so they snooze instead.
The amount of sleep that is normal for dogs varies hugely. It’s normal for dogs to sleep more than humans – they need about 3 hours more sleep per day than we do – and they often catch these extra hours during the daytime, when we’re awake to notice them.
However, a lot of the time your dog isn’t truly in deep sleep– they’re in a drowsy, lazy, in-between stage, perhaps waiting for stimulation.
If your dog seems to be sleeping a lot, consider giving them something else to do during the day with another walk or a brain-stimulating game.
However, sleeping more can be a symptom of illness so if you’re worried something isn’t right with your dog’s sleep patterns, it’s best to schedule a visit with your vet to check out your dog’s health.
Biologically, it’s not normal for a dog to sleep all day. However, many dogs do sleep or doze for large parts of the day because they have little else to do. Consider increasing their awake time with mental stimulation – a game, puzzle feeder, or extra walk all work well. Sleeping all day can also be a sign of illness, so call a veterinarian if you are concerned.
If your dog is sleeping all the time, it’s possible they’re ill, but they might just be bored. Try increasing your dog’s mental stimulation and, if they aren’t responding, consider a vet visit to get them checked out, especially if they have other symptoms.
It’s not known why dogs need more sleep than humans, but it’s only about 3 hours extra, on average. The rest of the time your dog is probably dozing in their bed rather than truly sleeping.
In general, dogs need the same amount of sleep. However, some dog breeds are more active than others, and others are lazier. Greyhounds are well known for sleeping most of the day, preferring to use their energy in short bursts.