Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much? (The Answer May Surprise You)

Picture of a dog with a sleep mask and an alarm clock

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Most new dog owners are surprised by how much these canines sleep. Some might even be concerned that their sleeping dog is ill, which begs the question, ‘why do dogs sleep so much?’ If you’d like to learn this and much more about your dog’s sleeping habits, read on!

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

There’s still limited research on why dogs sleep so much. Fundamentally, though, dogs sleep for the same reasons as humans; they require a restful night’s sleep to recharge and maintain functionality and excellent health. 

If your dog doesn’t get adequate sleep, he might become more vulnerable to illness, get disoriented, develop a bad mood, or even become hostile.

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much During the Day?

Dogs spend little time in deep sleep. They’ll likely awaken if they hear anything around them while asleep. Your dog may therefore end up spending most of its day asleep. Boredom is also likely to kick in during the day, causing your dog to take multiple brief naps.

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much More Than Humans?

One explanation for why dogs sleep for longer periods than people is that they have shorter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycles. Dogs spend around 10% of their sleep time in REM, compared to humans, who spend about 25% of their sleep time in REM. Therefore, dogs need more sleep hours than humans to compensate for their reduced REM sleep.

Also, you can argue that dogs don’t operate under tight schedules, deadlines, and other factors that force humans to remain awake. Therefore, if your dog gets bored, it can simply take a nap.

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much When They Get Older?

Physical changes associated with aging significantly contribute to changing sleep habits. Your dog begins to slow down, is less active, becomes fast exhausted, and requires more time to recharge or rejuvenate.

Similarly, as your dog ages, they become susceptible to conditions like dementia, and hypothyroidism, which could cause sleep disturbances. Therefore, it’s common for a senior dog to sleep more than usual.

What Happens if My Dog Sleeps Too Much?

Simply, it’s normal for a dog to sleep so much. However, you should watch out if your dog begins to sleep more than usual. If your dog is acting lethargic by being less active and sleeping more than usual, it’s likely not feeling well hence the need to visit your vet.

How Can I Keep My Dog From Sleeping So Much?

Some dogs might sleep so much because of boredom. Set a sleep routine for your dog. You should ensure it has sufficient playtime, rests at night, and feeds at acceptable intervals. Dogs are social sleepers and will often adjust to your sleeping routine.

Don’t sink your dog into boredom. Give it some toys to play with, walk it to the park and exercise it every few hours.

Tips from Our Vets

Dogs make excellent companions and bring so much joy to our lives. Unfortunately, however, they cannot speak to us.

If your pet exhibits odd behavior, it can be worrisome and difficult to know if the behavior is normal or a reason for concern.

Not sure why your dog is exhibiting a specific behavior?

  • Some behaviors can seem very odd but may be completely normal.
  • Others could signal illness or injury.
  • Due to the lack of ability for a dog to communicate with us verbally, it is imperative to pay close attention to what the dog is telling us through their behavioral changes.

The most important takeaway is that if you are ever concerned about a behavior that your dog is displaying, your best resource for information is your veterinarian.

In general, a new behavior that is not typical for your dog should be investigated. Examples would be:

  • Not eating
  • Suddenly sleeping more than usual
  • Being reluctant to go on walks or to play
  • Becoming aggressive or grumpy when interacting with other people or pets

These behavior changes most commonly indicate that something is wrong, and your pet needs to see their veterinarian as soon as possible. It is much easier and more likely to be successful, to treat an illness early in its course as opposed to waiting until the dog is very sick.

Other odd behaviors include:

  • Eating feces
  • Chasing their tail
  • Sudden bursts of activity (known as the “zoomies”)

These may be completely normal. However, if you notice a drastic change in your dog, for example, they never exhibited one of these behaviors, and now they suddenly are, it is prudent to have them examined by their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Even if the behavior is normal, it may lead to unintended issues.

For example, young dogs consuming their feces or the feces of other dogs can be a normal behavior but can lead to gastrointestinal upset as well as intestinal parasitism.

Parasites from your dog can cause serious health complications, not only for your dog, but also for you and your family, as many are transmissible to humans.

Licking of the feet or scratching may seem like normal dog behavior but typically indicates a health issue such as allergies, fleas, or skin infection.

Left untreated, these issues will worsen and cause additional discomfort for your dog.

Remember that your best source of reliable health information for your dog is your veterinarian. Because dogs cannot verbally communicate with us, it is essential to be proactive with any possible health concerns.

Working with a trusted veterinarian as your partner will ensure many happy and healthy years for both you and your dog.

Final Thoughts: Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

So, why do dogs sleep so much?

It’s completely natural for dogs to sleep a lot, and for the same reasons we humans sleep, including:

  • They want to replenish their energy levels
  • Sleep allows your dog to rest and recharge
  • They want to maintain optimal functionality 

If you’re looking for answers to explain your dog’s behaviors, you can check out our series of guides on why dogs do what they do:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.