Have you ever watched your dog when he’s asleep? You may have noticed his feet paddling, and his eyelids twitching. He may even yelp or whimper in his sleep. It looks like he’s having a very vivid dream.
When your dog is asleep, he goes through the same sleep patterns as we do. He too has REM (rapid eye movement) and non REM sleep. Most of his nap time is spent in non REM sleep, where his mind is still but his muscles aren’t fully relaxed.
When your dog is in a deep REM sleep, his brain is as active as it is while he is awake. This is when he twitches, paddles and yelps. Fortunately, during this type of sleep, his body is extremely relaxed, so he’s not able to get up and move around, and won’t cause himself an injury. Only about 10% of his sleep time is spent in REM sleep.
Given that your dog’s sleep is just like ours, it’s fair to assume that he also has dreams and nightmares. If you do notice that he is deep in REM sleep, don’t wake him. He’s likely to be disoriented if he is suddenly woken up from REM sleep, and he might just snap at you.
To Sleep, Perchance To Dream
Your dog’s sleep requirements vary depending on his age, his breed and how active he is during the day. Growing puppies will sleep for at least fifteen hours a day. Active adult dogs such as those who work stock, or those involved in police or customs work, will also sleep more than a sedentary dog. Giant breeds of dogs tend to be less active just by nature of their size, and they may not need to sleep as much as a more active breed.
Older dogs may find it difficult to settle to sleep. They may suffer from dementia, and may pace the floor at night. Sore joints can make it uncomfortable to lie still for any length of time.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Here are some suggestions to help your dog enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
1. Take your dog for a gentle walk around 1-2 hours before bedtime. Don’t exercise just before bed, or his heart rate will be high and he’ll find it hard to settle.
2. Take care with the timing of dinner. It’s hard to get to sleep when you’re hungry, and a full tummy can be uncomfortable when your dog is lying down. Give him his meal at least one hour before he has to go to sleep.
3. Provide a comfortable sleeping environment. Give him a soft bed to lie on, and make sure he isn’t too cold or too warm.
4. If your dog is elderly and a bit stiff, Joint Resolution will help to ease any pain in his joints. He’ll be much more comfortable when he’s lying down.
5. Sleepytime Tonic contains gentle and effective herbal sedatives and Bach Flower Remedies to encourage a restful night’s sleep. Put a few drops on his tongue shortly before bedtime, and he’ll be off to the land of nod in no time.
A good night’s sleep is important to your dog. It will recharge his batteries, and he’ll wake in good spirits, ready to meet the new day.