Working from home has allowed me to see first hand what Dylan and Rainey do during the day. And for the most part, in between gazing out the window and barking at various delivery trucks and people that are going by the house, they always seem to just be napping and lounging. So, it got me wondering about how much do dogs sleep. Have you ever given much thought to the life of a canine? I don’t know about you, but a dog’s typical day seems quite leisurely, don’t you think? A typical day in my dogs’ lives consists of the following:
- A couple of trips out for a potty break
- Chasing squirrels
- Barking at delivery trucks
- Snack time
- Naps, naps, and more naps
Sounds like a pretty leisurely day, doesn’t it?
If you find yourself worried about your dogs and wondering if they are sleeping too much, don’t worry. Chances are your dog is just fine! Just to be on the safe side though, let’s go through what to expect with your dog as far as sleep goes.
Table of Contents
- 1 How much do dogs sleep?
- 2 How many hours per day should you expect your dog to sleep?
- 3 Why do dogs need so much sleep?
- 4 Is your dog sleeping too much?
- 5 Other reasons that may cause your dog to sleep more
- 6 Is it normal for dogs to behave erratically when tired?
- 7 How can you help your dog get better sleep?
How much do dogs sleep?
While it seems like all of these naps and bedtime are an excessive amount of sleep for your dog, it is actually pretty normal. The canine species require a good amount of sleep to ensure their health and happiness.
There was an interesting study1 which looked at the effects of age and feeding frequency on dogs’ sleeping behavior. They looked at the sleeping patterns of three groups of dogs—young adults (1.5–4.5 years), middle aged (7–9 years), senior (11–14 years)—which were fed either once or twice daily.
This research showed that middle-aged and senior dogs slept more during the day than young adult dogs. This was because they took more naps and not because their naps were longer. Middle-aged and senior dogs also slept more at night than younger dogs because they had a longer total sleep interval at night and woke up fewer times during the night. Also, feeding your dog twice daily was associated with earlier sleep onset time at night and onset of morning activity.
How many hours per day should you expect your dog to sleep?
It’s hard to find research as to why dogs seem to sleep more than humans do. But from what I can gather, the average adult dog seems to sleep anywhere from 12 to 14 hours every day. Here is the breakdown of the average sleep of a dog in a 24-hour period. The typical schedule for a dog looks something like this:
Most dogs have a regular sleep schedule that is close to 50/30/20. Twelve hours or 50 percent of their day is spent sleeping, 30 percent of their day is spent awake but still resting, and the final 20 percent of their day is spent being active.2
Typically, you will find that large dogs and older dogs are more likely to sleep more each day, while small breed dogs often need less sleep. Working dogs actually sleep less too, even though they expend their energy more than other dogs. This is probably because they need to remain more active during the day.
Larger and older dogs have to expend more energy simply moving around, and that effort requires rest! Smaller dogs tend to expend more energy and continue to be active throughout the day, but their small bodies require less effort to rest and refresh.
Puppies spend a lot of energy learning about the world around them and can sleep anywhere from 18 to 20 hours each day.
Just like people, dogs learn while sleeping. Studies show that sleeping may help dogs with memory consolidation—a time-dependent process by which recent learned experiences are transformed into long-term memory.3 4 Taking a nap can improve subsequent performance of tasks/commands.
Why do dogs need so much sleep?
Yes, dogs sleep a lot. That said, even though it seems like your dog is sleeping all the time, they don’t actually sleep as deeply as humans do. They enter their rapid eye movement (REM) sleep patterns only about 10 percent of the time, compared to our 20 percent.5 This is why dogs can be awake instantly when you think they are sound asleep. The lack of deep sleep is a reason why your dog needs to take more naps through the day.
Even though most dogs tend to nap throughout the day, they actually follow a diurnal circadian rhythm, and on average sleep during 60 to 71 percent of the night and 30 to 37 percent of the day.6
Is your dog sleeping too much?
While simply sleeping a lot isn’t concerning in itself, it is always a good idea to make an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian if you sense that something deeper is causing your dog to sleep more than usual.
There is a concern that certain health conditions such as heart issues, poor diet, thyroid problems, diabetes, or depression can affect the amount of sleep your dog gets. If you find that your dog is suddenly sleeping more than normal, you may want to take your dog to see the veterinarian to ensure that there are no hidden health issues.
As mentioned, older dogs will sleep more as they age, but there are some health conditions that can affect their sleep. Some dogs can experience dementia and a common symptom is a change in their sleep-wake cycle. This may be caused by physical changes in the brain as well as increased anxiety due to disorientation.
If your older dog has arthritis, the pain may be preventing your dog from finding a comfortable sleeping position which will disrupt their sleep.
Older dogs may also become incontinent while they are sleeping which can wake them up. Make sure to allow your dog to go pee just before bedtime.
Other reasons that may cause your dog to sleep more
Outside of the more extreme reasons that your dog may be sleeping more than usual, you may find that these reasons are more interesting and far less scary. Here are a couple of the less important, but still equally effective reasons that you may find your dog sleeping more than usual.
- Boredom. Yes, that’s right. Boredom can be exhausting for dogs. If your dog is bored, he is going to sleep much more than a dog that stays more active. Most dogs will actually spend the day napping if their owner isn’t at home.
- It’s been a busy day. Does your dog stay with you all day? Have you been busy? Are you running errands and working a lot? This constant activity and mental simulation is exhausting and will cause your dog to sleep more than you are used to.
- They are adjusting to an abnormal schedule. Outside of a busy day, or even a boring day, if your typically organized day is thrown into the abnormal you may find that your dog gets extra tired. Stressful or busy days are hard on dogs. They can’t adjust to changes of schedules the same way that people do.
- Large crowds. If your dog is used to a typically quiet life with just a few humans, large crowds can cause anxiety and stress. Anxiety and stress are traumatizing to a dog’s body and can cause exhaustion.
Is it normal for dogs to behave erratically when tired?
It is quite easy for dogs to become grumpy when they are tired. Exhaustion and overstimulation can cause a dog to act grumpy and erratic. This is the time when even normally easy-going dogs can seemingly change their behavior completely. If you have ever wondered why otherwise loving dogs can bite or nip, this is often the reason.
How can you help your dog get better sleep?
To help your dog get their best sleep, be sure to follow these tips.
- Exercise regularly. Make sure that your dog is getting the appropriate amount of exercise for their age/size. Regular exercise isn’t just good for people.
- Try to maintain a regular routine. If your life is chaotic (it happens), try to do your best to maintain somewhat of a schedule. A routine can help your dog fit into a better schedule of sleep, which will in turn help them to become their healthiest, happiest selves.
- Make a comfortable sleeping area. Especially as your dogs age, they may have aching joints, so make sure they have a nice comfortable place to sleep. Extra bedding and blankets may make the floor more comfortable (assuming they don’t sleep with you).
Just like anything else with your dog, you know them better than anyone else. If you start to notice any abnormal behaviors, you should make a trip to the veterinarian. This includes erratic behavior, sleeping more than usual, sleeping less than usual, or anything else that concerns you. You are their best advocate!
- Zanghi BM et al. “Characterizing behavioral sleep using actigraphy in adult dogs of various ages fed once or twice daily.” Journal of Veterinary Behavior. 2013;8(4):195–203.
- How many hours do dogs sleep each day?
- Kis A et al. “The interrelated effect of sleep and learning in dogs (Canis familiaris); an EEG and behavioural study,” Scientific Reports. 2017;7:41873.
- Bódizs R et al. “Sleep in the dog: comparative, behavioral and translational relevance,” Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. June 2020;Volume 33:25–33.
- WebMD Medical Reference. “What are REM and Non-REM sleep?” Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on October 26, 2018.
- Owczarczak-Garstecka S and Burman O. “Can sleep and resting behaviours be used as indicators of welfare in shelter dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)?” PLoS One. 2016;11(10):e0163620.