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Let Sleeping Dogs Sleep – Why Your Dog Spends 50% of His Day Asleep

Petmate Academy

September 27, 2018

Do you ever think your dog sleeps too much? Well today, we are answering the pondering question, which reveals a lot about your dogs’ personality. From the position they sleep in, to every twitch and sound; a dog's sleeping pattern says more about them than we think.

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

In a day dogs spend on average 12 to 14 hours asleep. Their age and size are key factors in determining the number of hours needed for sleep. Older dogs tend to need significant amounts of deep sleep for the main reason of, activities become more difficult. Puppies spend most of their day exhausting their energy as they play and explore their surroundings. So much so, that they can require up to 20 hours of sleep to do the process over again. Pups tend to take quick power naps, sometimes in the middle of playtime.

Dogs sleeping patterns are not far off from our own. When they first begin to doze off, their breathing begins to slow, their heart rate decreases and blood pressure drops. After about 10 minutes, the REM cycle begins, where their eyes roll behind their eyelids and the dreams begin. One difference between a human and a dog's sleeping pattern is the time spent in REM. A dog has the capability of waking up at any moment alert and coherent. We spend about 20 percent in REM to recoup from being awake a full day, where dogs have the flexibility of entering the stage out of boredom. To make up for lost REM, dogs will take naps during the day.

Another reason a dog sleeps a lot is their health. Unless you notice a change in your dog’s sleeping habits, you should not be concerned. If your dog has a loss in appetite or mood changes for multiple days, consider consulting a vet. Some of these changes can be due to a life-changing event. Dogs adapt to their environment so well that any unusual shift can cause them to react. This might occur from the loss of a loved one, a big move, or among other changes. Understandably, dogs may need a little extra sleep to gain strength back. 

What Does My Dog’s Sleeping Position Say About Them?

1. On the Side

Dogs who like to sleep on their side tend to be easy-going and relaxed. They feel comfortable enough in their environment to leave their vital organs exposed. While sleeping it is more common to see a dog running in his sleep during a dream. This position is for laid-back dogs who still prefer the ease of getting up quickly.

2. Curled Up

Dogs who choose to sleep curled up are more secure and concerned about protecting themselves. Dogs tend to do this more in the winter to keep themselves warm or simply because it is comfortable. When sleeping curled up, a dog has less mobility during a dream.

3. The “Superman”

A common position with puppies is sprawled out on the tummy or “the Superman”. This position allows a dog to stand up quickly so that they do not miss anything. Puppies who need to nap frequently will drop to this position in the middle of playtime. Dogs who sleep in this position tend to like to be in the action and are typically full of energy and ready to play at a moments notice.

4. On the Back

Opposite to when a dog curls up, they may choose to sleep on their back to cool off. A dog who takes this position is comfortable enough to leave its most sensitive areas vulnerable. Dogs who sleep on their back probably don’t have a care in the world since they are not quick to get up.

5. Snuggled Up

If your dog enjoys some snuggle time, they are showing their affection for you. He is completely comfortable with his nap mate. Back-to-back or snuggled-up, this pup wants to bond in a very loving and peaceful way. Reciprocate the love by laying with your canine friend for a quick power nap.

How Do I Tell if My Dog is Sleeping Enough?

It can be difficult to identify whether your dog is getting enough sleep each night, especially when you're probably asleep at the same time!

Unfortunately, it is possible for dogs to experience sleep complications, as some pets have the same disorders as humans, including:

  • Sleep Apnea: "Snub-nosed" dog breeds like English Bulldogs, Frenchies, and Pugs may have issues breathing when laying down due to the shape of their airways. Listen to your dog's breathing when they sleep for signs of snoring or irregular breaths. If anything is present, consider speaking with a vet to identify whether it may be due to sleep apnea.
  • Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: Sometimes referred to as "doggy dementia," this condition can cause your dog to exhibit signs of restlessness, have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, or bark excessively.
  • REM Sleep Disorder: Though rare, dogs with this condition may move their limbs, chew, or bite excessively throughout the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of their sleep.
  • Narcolepsy: Another uncommon condition also found in dogs, narcolepsy may cause your dog to spontaneously "collapse" into sleep or appear excessively tired throughout the day.

These conditions and more can inhibit your dog's ability to receive a full night's rest and enjoy the benefits that come with it, eventually reducing their overall quality of life. Without enough sleep, they are at a higher risk of developing health issues such as infections and declining immune function.

As a pet owner, you'll need to keep an eye on your dog to ensure they're getting enough sleep. Of course, this isn't always easy, as you won't be able to tell what's going on within their bodies.

However, there are a few outside signs that may point to sleep deprivation. These include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Dizziness or disorientation
  • Trouble walking or performing other tasks
  • Inability to obey commands they previously learned

How Can I Improve My Dog's Sleep?

If your dog seems to be having trouble sleeping, not all is lost. There are a few strategies owners can use to ensure their dogs rest soundly throughout the night.

1. Remove Their Water Supply Before Bed

If your dog has no health issues, try removing your dog's water bowl two hours before their bedtime. This will keep them from having to wake up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break.

2. Reduce Their Activity Before Bed

Though some owners assume exercising their dog before bed will help them rest, this can actually end up making things even worse, as a tired dog will require water – therefore increasing the risk of a midnight bathroom break.

3. Create a Consistent Schedule

As creatures of habit, your dog will only benefit from a familiar, consistent sleep schedule that tells them when and where it's time to sleep. For instance, avoid letting them out in the middle of the night if they ask for a potty break, as this will teach them it's something they can do repeatedly.


  1. Dogs Sleeping Positions
  2. Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

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