Does it seem Rover is always sleeping? It's not just your imagination. Dogs spend a good part of their life sleeping because that's how they're genetically designed. In fact, the time to worry is when your dog isn't sleeping as much as he used to. Changes in sleeping patterns can indicate a problem—whether that means a health issue or stress.
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Normal Sleeping Patterns
All dogs sleep a lot—and some sleep even more. In fact, depending on the breed, your dog might sleep up to 18 hours a day. Larger breeds sleep more, according to PetPlace. On average, though, a dog sleeps half the day away—about 12 hours or so. Dogs don't sleep the way we do. Instead, they take a lot of short naps. This helps them recharge their energy quickly, so they can be ready to get up and go again.
As they get older, dogs are able to sleep through the night—but only because their owners do. In fact, wild dogs tend to be very active at night, often hunting in the darkness. Domestic dogs have adapted to their humans' schedules, though, and they might snooze the night away as long as they have a comfortable place for it—and that includes not only a comfy bed but also a room at an appropriate temperature.
Just like humans, dogs experience REM—or rapid eye movement—sleep cycles. These are the deepest sleep cycles, necessary for the brain to process information. Since dogs sleep for short periods only, they need to sleep often in order to get enough REM sleep and be able to keep their brains in top working condition. While it takes humans 90 minutes to reach REM, dogs will reach REM in about 15 minutes, according to Perfect Puppy Care. This means they can wake and go back to sleep—and be back in that vital REM sleep quickly. If you've ever seen your dog making weird sleeping noises or kicking his legs, you've seen REM sleep.
While tons of napping is common, your dog should not be asleep all the time. In between naps, he should be active and moving around. If you think Doggie is sleeping too much, he might be suffering from depression or a medical condition. Some medications also cause sleepiness. Old dogs also sleep more, as do newborn puppies.
By Tammy Dray
The Dog Bowl: Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much? PetPlace: Sleep Behavior of Dogs Dogs Trust: Sleeping and Resting The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine: Narcolepsy and Hypersomnias (Excessive Sleep) Perfect Puppy Care: How Dogs Sleep
About the Author
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.