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dog parent basics

Why does my dog sleep so much?

Does your dog catch lots of z’s throughout the day? Learn about normal and abnormal sleeping patterns in dogs.

Updated August 27, 2021

Created By

Jared Wilder,

The essentials

  • Dogs need lots of sleep Most dogs will sleep 12-14 hours a day. Older dogs and puppies sometimes need a few more hours to feel completely rested.
  • Age and activity level are major factors The older or more active a dog is, the more sleep they’ll need.
  • Extra sleep isn’t bad Unless your pup is sleeping off an illness (usually accompanied by other symptoms) or is taking medications, sleeping more than 12 hours isn’t unusual.

All about your dog's sleep schedule

According to the AKC, the average dog needs 12-14 hours of sleep — that’s roughly half the day! An adult dog will sleep about 8 hours at night, and they get an extra 4-6 hours by napping during the day. Puppies, older dogs, and large dog breeds may need more sleep to recharge; 16 hours of sleep for a dog isn’t uncommon.

Dogs have sleep cycles that last for about 20 minutes (compared to 70-120 in humans), and they typically sleep for 45 minutes at a time. If you let your pup sleep on the bed with you at night, you’ve probably wondered why they get up or move around so much. This behavior is common — canines tend to sleep through two cycles (45 minutes) and then get up for a moment before going back to bed.

How much do dogs sleep during the day?

Dogs will nap for about three hours during the day, usually in short spurts. If you see your dog laying down or napping for most of the morning or afternoon — don’t fret — snoozing throughout the day is completely normal for them.

The REM cycle in dogs

REM sleep is the deepest stage of sleep when our brains get the most impactful rest. If humans don’t get enough REM sleep, they’ll wake up feeling groggy and tired. Dogs need REM sleep too, but they only need to be in the REM stage 10% of their total sleep time (humans needs 25%). While dogs need less deep sleep than humans, it’s still important for their health and overall wellbeing.

What can cause your dog's sleep to change

Things that might disrupt your dog’s sleep schedule include:

  • Your lifestyle. When you wake up, eat, and sleep.
  • Changing environments. New surroundings and even new pets can change sleeping habits.
  • Their age. Puppies and elderly dogs may need more sleep.
  • Activity level. Very active dogs may need additional z’s.
  • Breed. Different types of dogs have various sleep needs (large breeds like mastiffs, great Pyrenees, Newfoundlands, or working breeds may sleep more)

How to tell if your dog is sleeping too much

With sleep, it’s hard to classify anything as “too much.” Puppies, for example, might need 20 hours a day to get enough sleep. Instead of judging your dog’s sleep based on average ranges, you should try to get a good sense of what is normal for your dog.

If your dog’s in a normal, healthy season of life, observe their sleep for a week or two to get a general idea of what their daily sleep schedule looks like. This includes taking note of how easy it is to rouse them from sleep — Suddenly becoming hard to wake could be a sign that something’s wrong. By observing your dog, you’ll have a baseline that you can use to judge changes in their sleep patterns.

If you’re not at home most of the day or keeping a close eye on your pup, you might not know how much time they spend sleeping. If you transition to working from home or take an extended vacation, you might be surprised to see how much time your dog spends asleep.

Sometimes, pet parents think they’ve noticed excessive sleep when in reality they’re observing more of their dog’s sleeping habits than they’re used to. This is why it’s important to try to establish a normal range of sleeping hours for your dog. Without that normal range, it’s almost impossible to know if your pup’s sleeping patterns should cause alarm.

What too much sleep could be a sign of

There are many reasons your dog might be sleeping more than normal, and most of them aren’t serious. Here are the most common reasons for extended napping in dogs:

  • Behavioral issues. Stress, anxiety, depression, or boredom
  • Medical conditions. Including diabetes, bacterial infection, obesity, viral infection, anemia, and poisoning
  • Medications. New prescriptions can make dogs sleepy
  • Old age. Getting older can change sleep patterns
  • Hypothyroidism. This a condition is where your dog’s thyroid gland isn’t productive enough.
  • Seasonal. Changes in the seasons may make your dog more tired

👉 These signs could also mean that your dog isn’t sleeping enough.

When to check with your vet

If your dog is happy and not acting out of the ordinary, then there’s nothing to worry about. However, if your furry friend seems to be sleeping more of the day away and has other symptoms of illness, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Similarly, if your dog has started a new medication, the meds might be making them lethargic. Check with your vet to make sure this drowsiness is normal and not a sign of a more serious reaction to the medication.

Always call the vet if your dog is sleeping more and has common signs of sickness/poisoning, such as:

🚨 Your dog might be sleeping more hours when they’re sick to help their bodies fight off the illness.

How to help your pup sleep

If you notice that your dog seems to be struggling with sleeping at night, there are a few things you can do to help.

Make sure they have a comfortable bed — Is your pup’s dog bed large enough? It is comfy? What material is it made out of? These are all things to consider when looking for a dog bed for your pup. Here are our three favorite chew-proof dog beds.

Try calming supplements — If your pup has trouble calming down at night, try giving them a calming supplement before bedtime. One of our favorites for dogs on the go is Front of the Pack’s Harmony supplement.

👉  Always check with your vet before introducing a new supplement into your dog’s diet.

Frequently asked questions

Why do some dogs sleep on their backs?

The fur on a dog’s back is very thick, especially compared to their bellies. If your dog is hot, they may relax and nap belly-up so that they can cool down. A dog’s primary method of cooling down is panting. When they’re asleep, panting isn’t really an option. So, a pup that’s feeling stuffy may sleep on their back to let their bellies cool them down.

Why do dogs twitch in their sleep?

If you’ve ever seen your dog twitch and even bark in their sleep, you likely assumed they were dreaming. Vets and psychologists would agree —dogs are probably dreaming about their daily experience. The old cartoon-like image of a dog dreaming about chasing rabbits is more realistic than you might think!

Why do dogs sleep with their eyes open?

Dogs that dream in their sleep may sometimes do so with their eyes open. It’s a similar response to twitching: their bodies are responding to stimuli in the dream.

Don’t always assume that they’re dreaming- sometimes seizures look like a dog sleeping with its eyes open. Other health issues such as cherry eye and Lagophthalmos may be to blame. Most of the time, however, dreaming is the primary reason dogs sleep with their eyes open. If you don’t see signs of distress or sickness, it’s safe to say your dog is just a vivid dreamer.

Why does my dog sleep on me or on my feet?

Dogs are pack animals, and their instincts affect many of their behaviors including sleep. In the wild, dogs/wolves sleep close to each other to conserve warmth and stay close. They may also sleep close to you because it simply feels safe- another trait that is common to pack animals.

Can dogs have sleep apnea?

It’s not just your snoring partner; sleep apnea can affect dogs, too. If you think your dog might have sleep apnea, make an appointment with your vet to get them the treatment they need.

Signs of sleep apnea in dogs include loud snoring, sluggishness, and grumpiness during the day. Dogs are at higher risk for sleep apnea if they have shorter noses (think boxers and bulldogs), if they’re overweight, or if they’re older.

Dogs with untreated sleep apnea will have a lowered energy level, less positivity, and have weakened immune systems because their bodies aren’t getting the rest they need. It’s important to detect and treat it so that your dog can be healthy and happy!