Why Sleep and Rest Are So Important for Your Dog

May 15, 2019
In the same way that people need to sleep a certain number of hours every day to stay healthy, our pets also need plenty of time to sleep and rest properly.

We’re used to seeing our pets get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. We often wake them up ourselves, so we can stroke them or play with them. But are you sure that your pet is getting the sleep and rest it needs?

In the same way that people need to sleep a certain number of hours every day to stay healthy, our pets also need plenty of time to sleep and rest properly.

Just because your pet also sleeps at night, doesn’t mean it’s sleeping during the day out of sheer laziness. They might really need those extra hours of shut-eye.

A very different sleep cycle

A cat asleep on its owner's leg.

You can start to understand just how important sleep is for your pets by understanding that their sleep cycles are rather different from ours. Among other factors, the amount of sleep they need will depend on their age.

Getting plenty of sleep and rest has many benefits for our furry friends:

  • Good mood: though some people might think otherwise, animals have their own character and personality. A lack of sleep will alter their emotions and make your dog grumpy or even aggressive.
  • Energy: a bad night’s sleep is draining for pets as well as people. If your pet hasn’t gotten enough sleep, it won’t have as much energy to do its daily exercise. In turn, this can lead to heart issues, or even obesity if your pet refuses to exercise in the long-term.
  • Peace: getting plenty of sleep will help your animal feel calm, reducing feelings of anxiety and nervousness.
  • Good health: Just like with people, animals’ organs continue to work as they sleep. Getting enough sleep ensures the body has sufficient time to do vital maintenance work.

The ideal sleeping space for your pet

  • Where you place your pet’s bed is very important. If it’s very far away from your bedroom, your pet will almost certainly spend the night trying to get into your room. This will make it stressed and anxious, and prevent it from getting a good night’s sleep.
  • The bed has to be the right size, so that your pet can stand up, turn, lie down and curl up in a ball to make itself feel safe. You might want to try out some different styles and textures, and let your pet decide for itself which it likes best.
  • The right lighting: you might not think that lighting has much of an impact on your pet, but it does. And, just like humans, each animal has its own personal preference. To work out what your pet likes best, you need to pay attention to where it chooses to sleep. Does it choose to sleep in brightly lit rooms, or does it prefer darker spaces, like under the bed or behind the sofa?
  • Sleep cycles: as the saying goes, let sleeping dogs (and cats) lie. If your pet is fast asleep, don’t disturb it. Though you might think it strange for your pet to sleep all night and most of the day, this is simply what its body needs.
  • Don’t wake your pet without a good reason.
  • On average, a dog will sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day, while cats can sleep between 16 and 20 hours. Just like humans, the quality of the sleep is just as important as the quantity.

The positive effects of sleep and rest on the body

A dog taking a nap in the park.

Getting enough sleep helps the body function properly. If an animal hasn’t slept well and hasn’t managed to get enough rest, it won’t have much energy, or the strength to go out and do the exercise it needs to stay fit and healthy.

Obesity is another common result of lack of sleep. It often occurs if an animal doesn’t do enough exercise over a long period of time.

A dog’s daily routine should be roughly divided as follows: 40% of the time is dedicated to activities such as eating, walking and napping, while 60% should be for sleeping.

On average, they should sleep for around 14 hours a day. However, they don’t usually sleep for 14 hours in one go; instead, they sleep in several blocks of two or three hours.