While many articles explore how much dogs sleep during the day, surprisingly little is said about their nighttime sleep.
Sleeping at night is not only essential for your pup’s development and health, but also for your own.
You might want to know what amount of sleep is normal so you can spot possible health issues early on.
Or perhaps your dog is just an early riser and you want to know how to get him to sleep a little bit longer.
As you probably know, dogs have different sleeping habits at night compared to humans.
However, we all share one big need for sleep, we just have different cycles and varying amounts.
My Rottweiler is an incredibly well-trained sleeper. Her sleeping schedule is right on par with ours.
She pretty much adjusted perfectly to our sleep schedule, gets sufficient sleep to be ready for two 1-2 hour walks and play every day, and sleeps through the night.
You’ll see why I personally think a sound sleep schedule is crucial.
Let’s dive into the snoozing 101 for canines.
Do Dogs Sleep All Night
Yes, adult dogs usually sleep all night alongside you in their bed assuming your dog is healthy, potty-trained, and on a proper sleep schedule.
Sleep at night should consist of at least 6 to 8 hours. If your dog sleeps less, it should be compensated with sleep during the day.
However, if your dog is easily sleeping more than 10 hours straight, you might want to look into health issues.
Anytime your dog significantly deviates from his usual sleep schedule, think about the possible causes.
- Environmental changes
- Dietary changes or lack of nutrients
- Medical issues
- Potty training issues
- Old age
- Disruption of the sleep cycle (i.e. loud noises outside, female in heat, etc.)
These are all reasons why your dog’s sleep may change.
Sometimes, your dog may just hear something outside, go outside your bedroom to investigate it, and might even stay awake for some time.
These kinds of isolated incidents are not a big deal, especially if your dog can regenerate the next day.
However, if you have a rescue or just issues in general with a loud environment or whatnot, consider everything you can do to block light and soundproof your room for example (can be as simple as heavy curtains).
How Long Do Dogs Sleep At Night
Your dog should sleep at least 6 to 8 hours at night with another 4 to 8 hours of sleep during the day so they total around 12 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle.
While it can happen that dogs sleep less than the usual 6 to 8 hours, that shouldn’t be the norm.
Unless your sleeping habits are completely different, your dog probably doesn’t have anything to do at night anyway.
The reason why dogs manage to fill their night with a lot of sleep cycles (which they enter and leave much more quickly) is the fact that everything is calm.
If your dog does not sleep through the night, I have a couple of tips below.
Do Dogs Sleep A Lot
Dogs do sleep a lot and spend around 50% of their time in pure sleep, 30% dozing or relaxing, and just 20% really being active which comes out at 19 hours of some sleep-like state for dogs.
That doesn’t sound like much time spent awake. But really if you break it down, it’s sufficient.
While only 20% of their total 24-hour cycle is spent awake, that amounts to nearly 1/3 of their raw daytime freed up to do whatever they please.
Going for walks, playing, eating, just goofing around – all that stuff easily fits into 1/3 or just 5 hours of your time during the day.
However, compared to humans it’s a fact that dogs sleep a lot and probably have more quality sleep too while not having the rigid schedule most of us do.
How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need By Age
While puppies need 18 to 20 hours of sleep, adults are fine with around 12 hours of sleep which can increase with large breeds and especially senior dogs.
Puppies outgrow the phase where they fall asleep practically everywhere pretty quickly.
However, let your pup enjoy the sleep (you’ll probably enjoy the time off anyway to keep the puppy blues at bay).
Sleeping is a time for puppies to regenerate and work through what they’ve experienced during the day.
Plain and simple – sleep is crucial for a dog’s development.
Most freshly baked dog parents struggle with getting their pup to sleep through the whole night.
Trust me, my Rottie pup didn’t want to sleep in her crate at all.
That being said, we pushed through it and she’s now fighting for champion titles in the category “deep sleep at night”.
Crate-training your dog and putting them on a schedule can really help with any behavioral or nighttime disturbances.
Why Do Dogs Wake Up So Easily
It’s true that it’s easier to wake up dogs than it is to wake up an average human.
But why do dogs wake up so easily?
Due to their shorter sleep cycles and ability to enter and leave REM sleep faster, they seem to be game whenever you make a move.
Despite that, dogs have a natural instinct to be awake as quickly as possible.
Plus, dogs love being part of the action.
It’s really fascinating for me because my Rottweiler snores heavily, deep into her dream somewhere far off… But once I move too slowly or too quickly, she’ll jolt awake.
Stroll around like you usually do and my dog won’t bat an eye.
Another reason for some dogs, especially rescues or breeds such as wolf hybrids, may be that they’re startled pretty easily when sleeping.
If you touch them and they don’t expect it, you might see them bolt upwards or even fall off the couch or bed.
I’ve seen it happen and if your dog is one of them, don’t worry as it’s usually not a medical issue.
In case you notice your dog having something resembling traumatic episodes or nightmares where they behave differently afterward, consult your vet.
Get Dog To Wake Up Later
If you want your dog to wake up later, you can try blocking the light, soundproofing your room, introducing a sleep schedule, and tiring your dog out properly during the day.
Sleep is not only important for you but also for your pup.
Exercise is probably the #1 contributor to getting your dog to sleep longer.
If your dog wasn’t physically exercised and mentally stimulated during the day, that can definitely be expressed by your pup being active at night.
Apart from that, try to block sound and light from the room and keep everything calm.
If your dog gets up, calmly redirect him to his bed and make sure to restrict exciting toys for that time.
Do Dogs Know When Humans Are Sleeping
Dogs know when humans are sleeping in some way, shape, or form but it might just be that they read the signs of resting and being unavailable, so whether or not they know that we’re in a sleep-like state is not entirely clear.
I’ve seen this demonstrated in my own Rottweiler.
When I’m up early and witness my dog’s self-grooming routine, her stretching in her bed, and so on I’ve checked out what she’s doing a couple of times.
Picture my eyes half-open (which she doesn’t notice judging by her face in the mirror) and then imagine a clueless Rottweiler staring at me and wandering around.
The minute there’s a clear sign I’m awake, she won’t leave the bedside until she gets her morning pet.
Sometimes, we’re just shifting and she gets all hopeful but then immediately recognizes that it won’t be immediately followed by getting up.
So dogs have some knowledge about us sleeping but it’s unclear what exactly they’re thinking.
Dogs definitely recognize when we’re unavailable and might even read the physical or environmental signs.
However, this is more about association than knowledge about sleep.
Think about it, have you ever played with your dog in your sleep? Probably not.
So that means that every time your eyes are closed, you’re lying in your bed, it’s probably dark and around the same time every day – it’s never playtime.
This pattern will be established and your dog will recognize it in the future.
Unfortunately, there’s no reliable study yet exploring whether or not dogs know humans are sleeping.
I did, however, compile a list of all the other sources I’ve used for this article.
Let me know if you have any questions, additional studies, or just anecdotes.
The following links all lead to Pubmed Central, an official U.S. Government resource.
- Sleep Duration and Behaviours: A Descriptive Analysis of a Cohort of Dogs up to 12 Months of Age
- Daily rhythms of serum lipids in dogs: influences of lighting and fasting cycles
- Baseline sleep-wake patterns in the pointer dog
- The interrelated effect of sleep and learning in dogs (Canis familiaris); an EEG and behavioural study
- Sleep Disorders in dogs: A Pathophysiological and Clinical Review
- Animal models of sleep disorders
- Differences in pre-sleep activity and sleep location are associated with variability in daytime/nighttime sleep electrophysiology in the domestic dog
- The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment