Do Dogs Reach REM When They Sleep?

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Ah, the life of your beloved canine friend! He sure does love his sleep -- and for good reason. Quite simply, he needs those "zzzs". Dogs require up to 18 hours of sleep a day and during their visits to doggy dreamland, they will reach the REM cycle several times.

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What is REM?

REM stands for rapid eye movement and consists of the wonderful part of sleep where dreaming takes place. During REM, brain waves are very active just like brain waves in an awake state. During REM, your precious friend's brain is hard at work, but he is in the most relaxed state of sleep. During REM, deep and blissful sleep happens! Dogs spend 10 to 12 percent of their sleepy time in REM and puppies spend large portions of sleep in REM.


What REM Looks Like

Don't you wish you could see what's happening in those dreams of that cutie pie snuggled up beside you? While he's kicking his feet and barking softly in his sleep, he is definitely REM-ing away -- and dreaming! It may sound just too cute to believe, but when he looks like he's chasing a squirrel in his sleep, he just might be doing exactly that! Your buddy may breathe faster and heavier during this stage of sleep or even hold his breath for a few seconds.

A Dog's Sleep Cycle


As Max drifts off into dreamland, he slowly enters the slow wave sleep cycle. This is a soft stage of sleep and the brain slowly quiets itself, but muscle tone remains the same, so his body isn't fully relaxed yet. Slow wave sleep waves are slow and sleep during this stage can be considered light. After this, Max will enter REM and he will be in a deep state of sleep where he is more difficult to wake. Let sleeping dogs lie! That cuddly cutie is busy dreaming doggie dreams and soaking up his beauty sleep.

Sleep Requirements

Depending on the size of your sweet companion, he will have different sleep needs. While Marley, a gentle giant of a Newfoundland, needs 16 to 18 hours of sleep each day to feel well rested, Simon the Yorkie may prefer to sleep 12 to 14 hours a day attain the feeling of a million bucks. Though there is no question that dogs need to soak up more sleep than their human counterparts, they wake up more, hence the need for frequent snoozing and doggie naps.


By Pamela Miller

References Do Dogs Dream? Sleep Behavior of Dogs

About the Author
Pamela Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for seven years. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from MTSU.