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Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much? Knowing Your Doggy

By Bridget Reed


Have you noticed your dog napping throughout the day? Are you wondering why they sleep so much and if it’s healthy? 

We’re going to answer all of these questions and more in this article so that you can determine whether your dog’s sleep pattern is normal and what simple, effective changes you can make if not. 

Why Does My Dog Sleep So Much?

First things first, why do dogs sleep so much? Like humans, dogs need sleep to help them feel energized, stay healthy, and function properly. If your dog doesn’t get enough sleep, they might be more prone to illness or experience a negative shift in their mood. 

However, unlike humans, adult dogs need roughly 12 to 14 hours of sleep daily, whereas we only need between seven and eight hours. For this reason, you might notice your dog napping throughout the day or after a walk. 

Several factors affect the exact amount of time your dog needs to sleep, such as breed, age, overall health, and activity level. Additionally, dogs can oversleep and get too little sleep, which we’ll look at later in this article.

The short answer to why dogs sleep so much is simple: it’s good for your dog’s health. However, if you are ever concerned about your dog’s sleep pattern, several different factors will be covered in the coming sections. 

If you are worried about how much or how little sleep your dog is getting, you can always take them to a veterinarian to get a professional opinion. 

How Much Should My Dog Sleep?

As previously mentioned, there are several parallels between dogs’ and human sleep cycles. Just like how dogs need different types of food as they age, dogs’ sleep needs change as they grow from a puppy to an adult. 

How Much Sleep Do Puppies Need?

Puppies require the most sleep, just like infants. One of the reasons why puppies need more sleep is because dogs learn while they are asleep, and puppies have so much to learn! Puppies need anywhere from 18 to 20 hours of sleep per day. 

You might notice your puppy falling asleep as soon as they return home from a walk or stopping to snooze in the middle of playtime. You should notice that when your dog hits the one-year mark, they start to exit the puppy phase and need less sleep. 

How Much Sleep Do Adult Dogs Need?

Dogs are “adults” when they are anywhere from one to six years old. Generally, adult dogs need much less sleep than puppies. 

Your adult dog should get anywhere from eight to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, with large dogs needing even more. That may seem like a large window, but several factors affect how much sleep your dog needs.

Roughly speaking, your adult dog’s sleeping pattern should consist of deep, restful sleep all night long, with about 30 percent of their waking time spent lounging and 20 percent of their waking time spent engaging in an activity. 

How Much Sleep Do Senior Dogs Need?

Much like humans, dogs slow down considerably the older they get. This means they need far more sleep to feel energized when they’re around humans. Your senior dog might need anywhere from 18 to 20 hours of sleep, just like they did as puppies. 

Although it might seem concerning to see your dog start to sleep for most of the day again, know that it’s normal for older dogs to have lower energy levels than they did between the ages of one and six. 

Do Dogs Have Sleep Cycles Like Humans?

No, dogs do not have the same sleep cycles as humans. Although dogs and humans enjoy REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM sleep cycles, dogs are polyphasic sleepers while humans are monophasic sleepers. Non-REM sleep is what we consider deep sleep, which leaves you feeling refreshed and rested, whereas dreaming occurs during REM sleep. 

Since dogs are polyphasic sleepers, they sleep on and off throughout the day. They can sleep at any time of the day, which is considered normal and healthy. On the other hand, humans are monophasic sleepers, meaning that we sleep for one long seven to nine-hour stretch at night. 

Dogs generally have short sleep cycles that last about 45 minutes. During a sleep cycle, dogs will cycle twice between REM and non-REM sleep. This all might make you wonder, do dogs dream? 

Yes, your dog will spend, on average, six minutes per sleep cycle in the dream stage. While dreaming, dogs sometimes go over tricks they were taught during the day and engage in other types of learning. 

Does My Dog Need a Sleep Schedule?

Another similarity between dogs’ and humans’ sleep patterns is that we all get better sleep when on a sleep schedule. Just like how infants need a sleep schedule to help them establish a healthy sleep cycle, puppies also benefit from sleep schedules. 

Part of the reason sleep schedules are so important is that they help your puppy get into your routine so that when you’re up and ready to walk in the morning, so is your dog. 

What Affects How Much Sleep My Doggy Needs?

Now that you know a bit more about dog sleep habits in general, you might wonder how much sleep your dog needs specifically. The three main factors that affect how much sleep your dog needs are breed, activity level, environment, and diet. In this section, we’ll dive into all three so that you have a better idea of exactly how much sleep your dog needs. 


Generally speaking, larger dogs require more sleep than small dogs. This means giant breeds such as Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, Elkhounds, and St. Bernards will need the most sleep. Miniature dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pomeranians will need less sleep.

Some midsize dog breeds such as bulldogs, pugs, and greyhounds also naturally like to sleep more. If you are wondering about your specific dog, it may be worthwhile to talk to your vet about how much sleep their breed needs. 

Activity Level

Your dog's lifestyle will greatly influence how much sleep they need. Generally, dogs who are active throughout the day, such as farm dogs or working dogs, will need more sleep at night. If your dog spends most of the day inside and only goes on one or two walks, they will likely need less sleep time to recover. 

Ensuring your dog gets enough activity throughout the day is important for their physical and mental health. When your dog is physically active, they are mentally stimulated and challenged. This mental stimulation will help combat boredom and depression, two factors that may lower the quality of your dog’s sleep or cause them to oversleep. 


If you’ve ever noticed that you have a harder time falling asleep in a hotel or at a friend's house, then you have some insight into another factor that affects how much sleep your dog needs. Just like humans, dogs get better and deeper sleep at home. Therefore, if you bring your dog on vacation, you might notice that they seem sleepier during the day or longer at night.


Your dog’s diet also greatly influences the quality of their sleep. A high-calorie diet will keep them energized longer. If your dog does not get enough nutrients, you might notice that they seem sluggish and sleepy. 

It’s also important to note that dogs can have food sensitivities and allergies just like humans, which can impact their sleep. For example, if your dog is allergic to chicken and you’re giving them chicken-based food, they might wake up at night to scratch. 

For this reason, it’s always advisable to talk with your vet about your pet’s diet to ensure they are eating the food best suited to their needs. 

Can Dogs Have Sleep Disorders Like Humans?

Just like humans, dogs can also have sleep disorders. Sleep disorders can affect your dog’s quality of sleep and overall health, so it is important to know how to identify common sleep orders. As dog owners, here are some conditions to look out for.


Does your dog randomly and suddenly fall asleep during the day? If so, they may have narcolepsy. Usually, narcolepsy in dogs is an inherited condition, more popular in breeds like Doberman Pinschers and Labrador Retrievers. However, immune system disorders and obesity can also affect narcolepsy in dogs. 


Another common sleep disorder in dogs is hypothyroidism. This condition occurs when an abnormality in your dog’s thyroid gland causes their metabolism to slow down. 

If your dog is gaining weight inexplicably, is extremely lethargic, loses hair, and seems to get cold more easily than usual, you may want to bring them to the vet to get their thyroid checked. 

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is most often seen in overweight dogs and brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic breeds are those with squished, flat faces like pugs, bulldogs, and Pekingese. 

If your dog has sleep apnea, the tissue in the back of the throat collapses into the airway while sleeping. This can result in your dog jolting awake violenting several times throughout the night or during their nap. 

Losing weight is one way to help with sleep apnea. If you think your dog is suffering from sleep apnea, you may want to consider taking them to the vet to pursue the best course of treatment. 

Cognitive Aging

As your dog ages and their cognitive functioning declines, you may notice a decline in the quality of their sleep. Dogs can develop dementia and other cognitive disorders that make them anxious and disoriented at night. 

Your vet can help you manage the symptoms of cognitive aging if you believe it affects your dog’s sleep. 


Senior dogs often suffer from arthritis, which causes painful joints. The pain caused by arthritis may keep them up at night. Luckily, you can talk with your vet about potential treatments for arthritis which may include medication, an orthopedic dog bed, or physical therapy. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Isn’t Sleeping Enough?

If your dog isn’t sleeping enough, you might notice that they seem irritable, more aggressive, or simply not like themself. Luckily, you can do a few simple things at home to help your dog get better, more restful sleep. 

First, dogs benefit from daily routines that include sleeping, resting, and consistent activities. To help your dog get better sleep, try feeding and exercising them at the same time every day, as well as setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. 

You can also try bringing your dog out right before they go to sleep to the bathroom and right when they wake up. If they have the chance to relieve themself right before bed and know to expect a bathroom trip as soon as they wake up, they are more likely to sleep through the night. That said, puppies and senior dogs tend to have difficulty making it through the night without a bathroom break. 


As a pet parent, if you’re worried that your dog is sleeping too much, chances are there’s nothing to worry about. Dogs are simply sleepy animals. Unlike humans, dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning it’s healthy and normal for them to take several naps throughout the day. 

Generally, puppies and seniors need to get anywhere from 18 to 20 hours of sleep daily. Healthy adult dogs may only need as few as eight hours of sleep per day, but the exact amount of sleep your dog needs depends on their breed, activity level, environment, and diet. 

You might notice that your dog is having difficulty falling asleep, sleeping too much, or looking uncomfortable while sleeping. In this instance, they may have a sleep disorder such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea. If you’re worried, discuss diagnosis and treatment options with your vet. 

Overall, the best way to ensure that your dog gets good, deep sleep is to create a routine. Try to bring your dog out before they go to bed and when they wake up to ensure they’re going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day. 

You can also try increasing the mental and physical stimulation they get in a day and giving them healthy, nutritious food to help them get a good night’s rest. 


Behavior in dogs with spontaneous hypothyroidism during treatment with levothyroxine | NIH

Sleep Apnea Research in Animals. Past, Present, and Future | NIH

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction and Alzheimer’s Disease – Two Facets of the Same Disease? | NIH

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