What Time Do Dogs Go To Sleep?

Understanding a Dog’s Sleep Patterns

Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning they have multiple sleep-wake cycles throughout a 24-hour period. This differs from humans, who are monophasic sleepers typically sleeping for one extended period at night. On average, dogs tend to sleep for about 12 to 14 hours a day, although puppies and senior dogs need even more rest. So, when do dogs go to sleep? The answer largely depends on their daily routine, environment, and emotional well-being.

Factors Influencing a Dog’s Sleep Schedule

Several factors influence when dogs choose to go to sleep. Understanding these factors can help pet owners ensure their furry friends get the quality rest they need. Here are some key considerations:

1. Daily Activity Levels

Dogs who get a good amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day are likely to sleep better at night. This is because their bodies and minds are tired, making it easier for them to relax and doze off. Lack of exercise, on the other hand, can lead to restlessness and irregular sleep patterns.

2. Age and Health

Puppies require numerous naps throughout the day to support their rapid growth and development. Senior dogs, especially those with health issues such as arthritis, may also need more rest. Both young and old dogs might not follow a strict nighttime sleep schedule, choosing instead to nap intermittently.

3. Breed and Size

Larger breeds like Saint Bernards and Great Danes generally need more sleep compared to smaller breeds. Additionally, certain breeds that were historically bred for specific tasks, such as herding or guarding, might have different sleep patterns based on their natural instincts.

4. Environment and Routine

A consistent daily routine helps dogs know what to expect, making it easier for them to adopt a regular sleep schedule. Environmental factors like comfortable bedding, a quiet sleeping area, and favorable temperatures also play a significant role. Loud noises or uncomfortable sleeping conditions can disrupt their sleep.

The Science Behind Dog Sleep

Dogs, like humans, go through different stages of sleep. They experience REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM sleep cycles. During REM sleep, dogs may exhibit twitching, dreams, and movements, much like humans do. This stage is essential for cognitive functions such as memory consolidation. Non-REM sleep is deeper and more restful, providing physical restoration.

Sleep Cycles

Understanding how dogs transition between sleep cycles can also shed light on their overall sleep behavior. On average, dogs spend:

– 10-12% of their sleeping time in REM sleep
– 20-30% in light sleep
– The remaining 50-70% in deep sleep

Dogs’ sleep cycles are shorter than humans’, lasting around 20 minutes compared to our 90-minute cycles. This means they wake up more frequently, which is why dogs appear to be light sleepers.

Common Sleep Behaviors

Dogs exhibit various behaviors while they sleep, many of which are perfectly normal. Some common behaviors include:

1. Circling and Digging

Many dogs will circle their sleeping area or dig at their bedding before lying down. This behavior is a remnant of their wild ancestors, who would circle and dig to make their sleeping spot more comfortable and safer from predators.

2. Twitching and Dreaming

As dogs enter the REM stage of sleep, it is common for them to twitch, vocalize, or move their paws. This indicates they are dreaming. Unlike humans, dogs can dream multiple times within a sleep period due to their shorter sleep cycles.

3. Body Position

Dogs’ sleeping positions can indicate their emotional state and how comfortable they feel:

– **Curled Up:** This position helps conserve body heat and protects vital organs, suggesting your dog wants to feel secure.
– **Sprawled Out:** Indicates your dog is comforted and feels safe.
– **On Their Side:** Generally means your dog is relaxed and in deep sleep.

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Creating an Ideal Sleep Environment

Providing a comfortable and safe sleeping environment is crucial for your dog’s overall health and well-being. Here are some tips to create the ideal sleep setting for your furry friend:

Comfortable Bedding

Choose a bed that offers good support. Orthopedic beds can be particularly beneficial for older dogs or those with joint issues. The material should be soft yet durable, and easy to clean.

Quiet and Dark Place

Noise and light can disrupt a dog’s sleep. Ensure your dog’s bed is in a quiet part of the house. Consider using blackout curtains if the area is exposed to extra light during the dog’s sleeping hours.

Temperature Control

Keep the sleeping area at a comfortable temperature. Dogs have a harder time regulating their body temperature, so ensuring the room isn’t too hot or cold is essential.

Adjusting Your Dog’s Sleep Schedule

If you find that your dog’s sleep schedule clashes with yours, there are ways to gently guide them towards a more compatible routine:

Incorporate More Daytime Activities

Engage your dog in physical activities and mental games throughout the day. It will help them expend energy, making them more likely to rest at night.

A Relaxing Evening Routine

Create a calming evening routine that signals bedtime. This could include a short, gentle walk, some light play, or simply cuddling. Calming activities help prepare their minds and bodies for sleep.

Consistent Meal Times

Feeding your dog at the same times each day can help regulate their biologically active period, aligning their need to sleep.

Gradual Adjustments

If you need to shift your dog’s sleep schedule, do so gradually. Sudden changes can be confusing and stressful for them. Slowly adjust bedtime or wake-up time by 15-30 minutes each day until you reach your desired schedule.

Signs of Sleep Disorders in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from sleep disorders. Recognizing the signs early can lead to timely intervention and treatment:


This can be caused by underlying medical issues such as pain, anxiety, or illness. If your dog seems restless and unable to sleep, a vet visit may be necessary.

Sleep Apnea

Common in flat-faced breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs, sleep apnea can cause your dog to wake up frequently due to obstructed breathing. Treatments can range from lifestyle changes to surgical intervention.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Dogs with restless legs syndrome may constantly move their legs, preventing restful sleep. This condition often requires a veterinary diagnosis and treatment plan.

Finishing Thoughts

Understanding and respecting your dog’s sleep patterns is essential for their overall health and happiness. Factors such as age, breed, daily activities, and environment all play crucial roles in determining when and how well your dog sleeps. Creating an ideal sleeping environment and maintaining a consistent routine can significantly enhance the quality of your dog’s rest. Always be mindful of any sudden changes in their sleep behavior and consult a vet if you suspect any underlying health issues. With the right care and attention, your furry friend can enjoy a restful and rejuvenating sleep, contributing to a happier and healthier life.


  • Ollie Lane

    My name is Ollie Lane, the zestful spirit and sleep enthusiast editor at GoodSleepHub. Blending my expertise in Sleep Technology with a dash of whimsy, I'm all about transforming your nights from blah to ta-da! I believe great sleep is a blend of science, art, and a bit of fairy dust. When I'm not knee-deep in the latest sleep gadgetry or jotting down notes for my next blog post, you can find me strumming on my ukulele or chasing after my mischievous beagle, Benny. My approach to sleep is like my music: playful, innovative, and always in tune with your needs.

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