Dogs make fantastic pets. They are funny, cute, cuddly, and loving.
They are also fascinating; watching what they get up to is one of the great joys of being a dog owner.
For example, dogs seem to sleep much more than humans but also sleep in shorter bursts than us.
So why are dogs such light sleepers, and how do canine sleep patterns vary from ours?
Why Are Dogs Light Sleepers?
Dogs are light sleepers because this allows them to stay alert for sounds that could pose a threat (this stems from their wolf ancestors).
As a result, dogs can easily be disturbed when asleep. They also sleep for shorter periods than humans do, so may often wake up during the night.
In this article, we will examine the strange sleeping habits of dogs and why humans and dogs follow different sleep schedules.
So you can gain some new insight into how and why your dog sleeps the way they do.
Related Post: Dog Running in Sleep?
Are Dogs Ever Fully Asleep?
Dogs are fully asleep while they enter Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.
Just like humans, dogs go through both non-REM sleep and REM sleep. During REM sleep, dogs experience deep sleep and dreams.
Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning they sleep in intervals throughout the day.
However, dogs are most likely to be fully asleep in the middle of the night when it’s dark and quiet.
NOTE – You might also be interested to read this blog post if your dog gets hiccups when sleeping.
Are Dogs Lighter Sleepers Than Humans?
Dogs tend to be lighter sleepers than humans for a few key reasons.
This allows them to remain alert to any noises or disturbances during the night.
Dogs also have superior sensory perception compared to humans, with hearing that can detect sounds at 4x the distance.
Their acute sense of hearing enables dogs to pick up on subtle noises that humans would simply sleep through.
In addition, dogs have an instinctual vigilance, stemming from their evolutionary history as pack animals needing to remain alert to threats.
This protective instinct often translates into lighter sleeping habits, even in domestic settings today.
Dogs frequently sleep with one eye open and never fully relax into deep slumber like humans.
Unlike humans, who benefit from a consolidated 7-8 hours of sleep, dogs also tend to cycle through periods of sleep and waking many times during a 24-hour period.
Their polyphasic sleep pattern contributes to more restless, easily disrupted sleep compared to our nightly deep REM sleep.
Dogs are comfortable with taking frequent short naps during daytime hours – they don’t always need prolonged sleep at night when humans require it most.
While there are exceptions in elderly dogs or deep-sleeping breeds like Greyhounds, dogs overall tend to have more fitful, fragmented sleep cycles compared to humans.
Their evolutionary history as vigilant pack protectors has primed dogs to remain in a state of semi-alertness even during sleep.
A combination of their biology, senses, and instincts makes dogs generally lighter sleepers than we are as humans.
Related Post: Why Does My Dog Fall Asleep on Me?
How Many Hours of Sleep Do Dogs Usually Get at Night?
Dogs don’t sleep in the same way that humans do. Instead, they tend to be more active and hyper during their waking hours but then sleep for short periods throughout the day.
But how many hours of sleep does your dog get at night while you’re also sleeping?
Dogs usually get up to 9 hours of sleep at night. They sleep at intervals throughout the day but will catch most of their sleep at night.
Most dogs sleep up to 9 hours at night and then rest for another 3 to 5 hours in naps during the day.
Therefore, dogs sleep up to around 14 hours a day.
It’s important to remember that not all breeds of dogs or even individual dogs will have the same sleeping habits.
For example, large dogs, old dogs, and puppies typically enjoy more sleep than smaller breeds or working dogs.
If you are worried that your dog might get either too much or not enough sleep, this video will be helpful:
NOTE – You might also like to read this post looking at why dogs curl up in a ball when they sleep.
Do Dogs Prefer To Sleep in the Dark?
If you observe your dog’s daily habits, you’ll notice that they spend a large chunk of the day asleep and relaxing.
So it’s clear that dogs can sleep in daylight. This begs the question, do dogs prefer to sleep in the dark?
Dogs prefer to sleep in the dark. They have circadian rhythms like humans, making their sleep sensitive to bright lights and noises.
As a result, your dog will get a better night’s sleep in a dark and quiet space, just like a human. But they are very happy napping during daylight hours.
Typically humans get all of their sleep in one long continuous rest, usually at night.
However, dogs don’t follow the same sleep patterns.
Dogs will have many periods of sleep during the day and night.
Nevertheless, dogs get their best rest and most of their sleep at night as it’s dark and usually quieter.
Related Post: Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much on Rainy Days?
Why Does My Dog Touch Me When Sleeping?
Your dog touches you when they’re sleeping as it provides them with a sense of security.
Dogs are social animals and feel safest and happiest when there are close to other members of their pack.
Dogs are protective and territorial animals.
As a result, it’s in your dog’s nature to be ready to bark or investigate any sounds or potential threats.
That’s why dogs are light sleepers, but it also explains why your dog wants to touch you when sleeping.
If you wake up, they want to wake up, and vice versa.
Related Post: Why Do Dogs Wake Up From Sleeping So Easily?
Why Does My Dog Sprawl Out While Sleeping?
Some dogs love to curl up in a tight little ball when they sleep.
Others love to stretch out to full length. So why do some dogs love to sprawl when they are asleep?
Dogs sprawl out while sleeping because it is comfortable.
They do so because they like it. It is also a sign that they feel safe and secure enough to sleep in this way.
They are more likely to curl up in a tight little ball if they feel less safe.
Final Thoughts on Dogs Being Light Sleepers
Dogs are light sleepers as they’re polyphasic sleepers, which means they sleep in intervals.
When sleeping in intervals, dogs spend less time in deep sleep, meaning they can respond to unfamiliar sounds and smells.
This is a trait they inherited from their wolf ancestors when it was useful to sleep lightly to stay alive.
That is the end of this post looking at the question – why are dogs light sleepers?
Thats for stopping by to visit the site.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!