Quality sleep is essential for anyone wishing to live a happy and healthy lifestyle. Your dog’s sleep habits are just as essential to their health as your sleep habits are to yours.
Getting restful sleep is scientifically known to positively affect multiple critical brain functions and in turn, improve yours and your dog's physical well-being.
Your dog has rhythm!
No, not just doggie dance moves, they have a circadian rhythm. As stated onsleepfoundation.org, a circadian rhythm is basically your 24-hour internal clock that runs in the background of your brain. It is the cycle between wakefulness and sleepiness.
Your dog’s circadian rhythm is much like yours with some variances.
Your sleep cycle has phases and levels of brain activity to ease you in and out of restful slumber. Your dog’s brain waves go between different stages of a cycle similarly, yet much quicker. These steps are known as short-wave sleep (SWS) and deep sleep/rapid-eye movement, or REM.
Your dog enters deep sleep (REM) quicker than you and can be woken up fairly easily with sound or change in atmosphere. Dogs often don’t need the long bouts of sleep as their humans do.
Interrupted sleep is known to cause drowsiness, fatigue, and poor health in most humans. Dogs, on the other hand, typically do not have this problem because they accumulate through many small naps throughout the day and night to rejuvenate their body and mind.
Typically, most adult dogs sleep between 12 to 14 hours in a 24 hour period. That might seem like quite a lot when comparing how many hours you usually get. On average humans spend around 7 - 9 hours sleeping.
Obviously, no two humans or dogs are alike so the amount of time and quality of sleep depends on multiple factors. While these categories are generally considered ‘normal’ to the vast doggie majority, they are important to understanding how to look for possible abnormalities in their sleep habits.
Puppies, who expend a lot of energy exploring and learning may need as much as 18 to 20 hours. Older dogs usually need more complete and longer snoozing to help their body heal as their vitality becomes more difficult to maintain with age.
While size doesn’t matter, bigger pups tend to hold the title for longest naps compared to the average lap dog.
As mentioned before, puppies, service dogs, and working dogs tend to have more ‘jobs’ or exert more energy and therefore may sleep longer or go into a deeper sleep faster than other dogs. Fluffy friends that maintain a more leisurely lifestyle likely spend more of their day sleeping.
Just as you are affected by life's changes, your dog is too. When you get sick, you move homes, you start new jobs, your health and mental well-being may need to adjust to the stress of change. That stress can alter your zzz quality. This fact is true for any changes your dog may encounter as well.
If any of the above resources and information have helped you determine that your dog’s sleep habits are perfectly healthy, GREAT!
However, if you notice that there is a sudden change in your dog’s napping habits or something simply seems a little off, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.
In rare cases, your dog may have developed or were born with a sleep disorder which, unless it is fairly severe, can be a long and difficult process and may require you to keep logs of your dog’s symptoms.
Some symptoms of sleep disorders to take note of are whining, crying, or frequently waking up during the night. They may also seem more sluggish during the day or appear more discombobulated doing their normal activities.
Due to sleep deprivation, stress hormones may buildup, so dogs who have sleep disorders may appear aggressive, refuse to cooperate, or develop infections easily from a weakened immune system.
Here are four common types of sleep disorders in dogs and what to look out for:
Typically a genetic disorder, narcolepsy is affected in the nervous system and causes a significant level drop in a chemical called hypocretin. Hypocretin signals the brain to maintain alertness and controls your circadian rhythm.
These pups have a tendency of suddenly dropping to the floor due to muscle paralysis and falling asleep, typically after a period of excitement or exertion.
Usually associated with another health issue, insomnia is often caused by pain, anxiety, and stress. These fluffy friends may stay alert through the night and seem sluggish during the day.
Seen in larger, obese, and short-nosed dogs, sleep apnea is an obstruction of air that causes a dog to snore and interrupts their sleep cycle. This can be dangerous if the severity is enough to block their breathing entirely.
This disorder is more common and can be mild or very extreme.
Symptoms are very noticeable. You may see them running, barking, or even fighting in their sleep and are unaware of the actions upon waking.
Attempting to diagnose or manage the sleeping disorder by yourself could cause your dog’s poor sleep quality to get worse or last much longer.
Keeping your dog happy and healthy is the goal for most families. Getting consistent, quality sleep is the main factor of their overall well-being and vitality.
Here’s what you can do to ensure your dog’s sleep is optimized:
Maintaining a fairly consistent schedule is one of the best ways to aid in training your dog to develop good sleep habits. This routine can be flexible in time, however, it is best to continue to keep the repetition as often as possible. Adopting stability with their scheduled vet visits and any medications they may need is also needed to maintain your dog’s optimal routine.
Daily exercise such as walking, obstacle courses, playing fetch and swimming are proven to stimulate your dog both physically and mentally. 30 minutes a day is the norm, however, your dog may require more if they belong in the working breed category.
Getting the proper nutrients is essential for both you and your dog’s goal to better sleep. Having a consistent and healthy diet is a stepping stone to creating great habits and feeling good doing it. Supplements like Coconut oil can also help fill in the gaps in your dog's diet.
Often overlooked, where your dog sleeps directly correlates with a dog’s sleeping health and habits. Your dog’s sleeping space dictates their joint health and, more importantly, their long-term health. Keeping your pup’s temperature regulated throughout their snooze is important. Investing in an orthopedic memory foam bed is the best thing you can do to relieve arthritic pain and promote joint health in all dogs of all ages. Orthopedic memory foam dog beds also utilize pressure redistribution which allows nutrient-rich blood to flow, encouraging quick healing and fast recovery.
Improving the quality of sleep is extremely important to your dog’s health. Create a happy, healthy, and long life for your fluffy friend, starting with zzz’s.