Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

If it seems like your dog is sleeping a lot, you're not crazy! Plus, dogs can sprawl out and snooze anywhere, seemingly at any time of day. Dogs spend a lot of their time sleeping, and that's normal. If you're away from home for part of the day for work, they may be sleeping even more than you're aware of.

The average dog can spend half the day sleeping.
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How much do dogs sleep?

Dogs need a lot of sleep, but it turns out that the amount of time dogs spend sleeping depends in part on their age. The average dog can be said to spend half the day sleeping...that turns into 12 to 14 hours a day. Puppies and older dogs will sleep even more than this.

Puppies are growing fast, so their body responds by sleeping up to 20 hours a day. Larger dogs tend to sleep more hours a day than smaller dogs do, although this is not true for every breed. Larger dogs may sleep up to 18 hours a day, even if they are not senior dogs. And surprisingly, active dogs may sleep less than dogs that are sedentary for most of the day.

Dogs cycle into REM sleep more rapidly than humans do.
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Dog sleeping patterns

In some ways, dog sleeping patterns are similar to those of humans. That makes sense, since dogs and humans are both mammals, but there are some differences. Humans have trained ourselves to get nearly all of the sleep we need in a day all at once, by sleeping 8 hours or so at night. But before modern society made that sleeping schedule impractical, humans used to sleep for a few hours, wake up and do things, and then sleep again for a few more hours.

Dogs have maintained more of that type of schedule. Additionally, dog sleeping patterns include short-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye movement deep sleep (REM sleep), just like humans do. Dogs cycle into REM sleep more rapidly than humans do, however.

In humans, the cycle from SWS to REM sleep can take hours, but dogs can enter REM sleep in 20 minutes or less. It is during this part of their sleeping patterns that you will notice your dog twitching, whimpering, or otherwise making noises, or moving as if they are chasing something.

Even though dogs seem like they sleep all the time, they actually don't sleep for long blocks of time. That's because your dog enters this REM sleep cycle much more quickly than humans do. It also explains why their overall sleep pattern is one of shorter chunks of sleep throughout the day. This also means that dogs wake more easily than you would if you were deep in slumber and dreaming, and explains why a dog can go from crashed out on the couch to barking up a storm the second they hear the mail carrier.

A dog's sleeping habits are very tied in to how they interact with their humans.
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Are dogs nocturnal?

A dog's sleeping habits are very tied in to how they interact with their humans. A working dog, such as a sheepdog, that is trained to watch over sheep in the fields, is likely to be more nocturnal than a dog who lives in a suburban home or city apartment. That's because dogs are very easily able to adjust to the schedule of the humans that they live with.

Dogs tend to sleep unless they are getting attention, so when you go to sleep, or if you're having a Netflix night and you're bonding with the couch, chances are your dog will too. If you have a job that keeps you up and active at night, your dog will likely adjust to that schedule and be active when you are. In general though, dogs are not truly nocturnal and can be awake and sleep at any time of day, depending on what their normal routine is.

Can my dog sleep too much?

It's not likely that excess sleep will be a problem for your dog, but each dog is different. It's totally normal for dogs to sleep a lot, but one thing to keep in mind is if you notice any change in your dog's sleep habits.

A change in sleep routine such as excessive lethargy or breathing problems could be a sign of something that needs veterinary attention. Your dog could be sleeping a lot because there's nothing else to do, so consider some environmental enrichment such as a new toy or going on an extra walk each day. Dogs can also become depressed and withdraw, just like humans can.

Another thing that could cause a problem if your dog is sleeping too much is bathroom issues. If your dog is sleeping so much that they are missing bathroom breaks, or waking up in the middle of the night for bathroom breaks, consider slowly changing their sleep habits until the situation works better for you both.

As your dog becomes older from about age 7 onward, it's normal for her to sleep more.
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Do older dogs sleep more?

As your dog becomes older from about age 7 onward, it's normal for her to sleep more. Older dogs sleep a lot more for a variety of reasons: they tire more easily from exertion, they may have arthritis and not want to move as much, or your dog may be sluggish from slower metabolism caused by something like hypothyroidism.

Do dogs sleep as much as cats?

There's truly not a lot of difference between how much dogs sleep versus how much cats sleep. When you compare the range of the amount of sleep that a normal dog needs, which is 12 to 14 hours, with the range that is given most often for cats, which is also 12 to 14 hours, it's about the same!

Some sources say that cats sleep up to 15 hours a day, so if you have a dog that sleeps on the lower end of the range and a cat that sleeps on the higher end of the range, your cat could be sleeping as much as three hours more than your dog each day!

The 12 to 14 hours a day that your dog sleeps seems like a lot, but the reality is, it's normal!
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Conclusion

That 12 to 14 hours a day that your dog sleeps seems like a lot, but the reality is, it's normal! The amount of sleep that your individual dog may need varies, as each dog is different. Your dog's sleeping patterns are affected by a lot of different things, such as their age, medical conditions, and their general level of physical activity and the things that are going on in their environment.

Older dogs and puppies need a lot more hours a day of sleep than adult dogs, so don't worry unless you notice a change in their sleeping habits that may be related to a medical condition.

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