If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably thought to yourself “must be nice” as your dog drifted off to sleep for the third time before noon. And while it’s easy to envy your best buddy’s sleep schedule, there’s actually a reason why dogs require more sleep than we do.
Humans require about 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and ideally, around 25% of that will be deep or REM sleep—which breaks down to around 90 minutes if you’re out for 8 hours. Dogs, on the other hand, get about 10% REM sleep during their combined sleep hours. To make up for the regular lack of REM sleep, dogs sleep more throughout the day.
So, how do you know when your pup is deep into dreamland?
Some of the telltale signs that your dog has entered REM sleep include paw twitching, rapid eye movement, and possibly even barking. And yes, before you ask, scientists say that dogs do dream. In fact, they believe that dogs do most of their dreaming during the periods where they enter their deepest sleep. Scientists also believe that dogs dream in a similar way to humans, including moments from the day, playing with their favorite ball, or finally catching that squirrel.
Let’s elaborate on some of your pup’s sleep quirks.
You might have also noticed differences in the amount of sleep twitching or activity during different stages of your dog’s life. The differences are due to a part of both the human and dog brainstem called the pons. The pons is what keeps us from acting out our dreams while we sleep, and when not functioning properly, can lead to events like sleepwalking.
In puppies, the pons is underdeveloped, which is what leads to those incredibly cute puppy sleep moments. In older dogs, the pons isn’t functioning as well as it does for middle-aged dogs, which is why you might hear an increase in sleep barking. So if you miss those sweet puppy dream moments, don’t worry—they’ll most likely make their way back at some point.
Speaking of dog dreams, there’s a reason why the phrase “let sleeping dogs lie” exists. As tempting as it may be to rescue your dog from a nightmare, it’s recommended that you let them wake up on their own. Waking up a dog mid-dream can confuse or scare your dog, and they might not realize they are no longer dreaming and become aggressive. If that leaves you feeling guilty, here’s something that might help: veterinarians believe that, like humans, dogs work through thoughts and feelings while they’re having both good and bad dreams.
Ready for your Pooch to get more REM?
Experts have a few opinions on the best ways to maximize zzz’s for your pup, and interestingly they might not be too far off from your own nighttime routine. In fact, routine is one of the most important parts of obtaining better sleep for Fido, along with limiting water and activity right before bed, and letting them out before tucking them in.
Also similar to maximizing human sleep, dog sleep can also be improved by selecting the perfect bedding— if they’re not already sleeping beside you on your supremely comfy Tuft & Needle bedding, of course.
Ready to grab the bedding of your dog’s literal dreams? Check out our very good foam bed for very good dogs.
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