Why Are Dogs Light Sleepers? (9 Reasons)

Why Are Dogs Light Sleepers

Dogs can spend the majority of the day sleeping and taking short naps. When watching your dog being cute while sleeping, you might notice that they seem to wake up at every little thing.

You might try to keep quiet to help your pup sleep better, but they still open their eyes, letting you know that they’re awake.

Is it your fault that your dog can’t sleep or are all dogs the same? Are dogs light sleepers and why?

While dogs get most of their sleep at night, they also take multiple naps throughout the day. Some breeds sleep more than others and your dog might be a light sleeper because there’s too much noise, they were trained to be alert or they’re protective. It could also be due to separation anxiety or illness.

Those are just a few reasons that might explain why your dog is a light sleeper, so let’s take a closer look at all the possible 9 reasons why dogs are light sleepers and seem to wake up at slight disturbances.

9 Reasons Why Dogs Seem To Be Light Sleepers

Let’s take a deeper dive into the 9 reasons why dogs are light sleepers. While there are some dogs that might be light sleepers because of one reason, that does not mean it is the case with other dogs. Some dogs might be light sleepers because of a combination of reasons depending on their situation.

Being aware of our dogs’ surroundings and the context of their behavior can help us discover the reason behind their actions.

Reason 1: Dogs Sleep Multiple Times Throughout The Day

Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, which means that “it’s normal for them to sleep in multiple blocks in any 24 hour period, typically getting about 40% of their sleep during the day.” Human adults generally sleep only at night. Human babies, however, are also considered polyphasic sleepers since they tend to take multiple naps throughout the day.

While dogs take multiple naps throughout the day, they will get most of their sleep during the night. Dogs generally need to sleep around 12 hours a day. Puppies and seniors tend to sleep more.

Since dogs sleep a lot throughout the day, they will seem to wake up more frequently. After all, they need to reenergize for all the fun and food that’s in store for the rest of the day!

Watch this short video of a puppy who loves to sleep with their baby human:

Reason 2: The Environment May Keep Dogs Awake

Just like with us, many dogs want to sleep in a quiet space. The environment is always a consideration when it comes to the best spot to sleep. However, if there are sudden loud noises, the dogs in the area might appear to be light sleepers since they will wake up from those noises.

Dogs have a greater sense of hearing than humans. They are able to hear things up to four times farther than what humans can hear due to their difference in the ear structure. Not only are they able to hear things that are farther away from us, but they are also able to hear higher-pitched noises.

Our four-legged furry companions might seem to be light sleepers sometimes, but it may be possible that they heard something we can’t and it woke them up. Perhaps a pest making noise behind the wall your dog usually sleeps next to.

Reason 3: Some Dog Breeds Can Sleep More Than Others

Interestingly, dog breeds not only explain some dog temperament and energy levels, but they can also explain why some dogs seem to sleep more than others. Of course, every dog’s needs are different from each other, but their breed can give a general idea that may apply to an individual dog.

Certain dog breeds can be known to love taking naps throughout the day. Some dogs are just not meant to be alert for the entire day. For example, Greyhounds, Bernese Mountain dogs, bulldogs, pugs, and many more, can often be found sleeping during the day.

While these breeds would love to nap in the house or apartment all day, it’s important that they still receive a good amount of exercise every day.

Dog breeds can give a general idea as to why certain dogs do certain things. It’s not uncommon to find a dog with a hunting dog breed in their DNA that loves to run or a herding dog that herds people in the house.

Reason 4: The Trait Was Passed Down From Their Ancestors

Dogs are descendants of wolves. Even though it has been a long time since dogs have been domesticated, dogs still have many behaviors that were passed down by their wolf ancestors.

Wolves are pack animals. This comes with the responsibility of protecting one another by staying alert at all times. Dogs could be light sleepers because they still have that alert instinct in them.

However, while dogs might have the alertness of a wolf, their pattern of sleep according to this article isn’t entirely identical, probably because of domestication. The research shows that wolves log more REM sleep, which in humans is linked to dreaming.

Being alert while sleeping isn’t the only trait that could’ve been passed down from wolves. Interestingly, you might notice that dogs seem to know not to get too close to fire as well.

Reason 5: The Dog Was Trained To Be Alert

While the breed of a dog can determine if they are likely to be alert often, training and patience can teach almost any dog to do anything.

Different dogs have different jobs as well. Many guard and working dogs are trained to be alert and watch out for suspicious people. However, their training might also include staying alert even when sleeping. Some service dogs are also trained to be alert at night to help their humans.

Any type of training requires patience. It’s important to note that a dog does not always understand what you want them to do and it’s not their fault for not understanding. With some consistency and patience along with some treats, dogs can do amazing things!

Reason 6: Dogs Can Be Protective

Dogs might be light sleepers because they are making sure they are protecting the things and people they care about. Similar to the previous reason, dogs might be alert while sleeping. However, this may be because they are making sure no one harms their owners or tries to steal their things.

There are a bunch of reasons why dogs are protective of their owners. Some reasons include their natural instinct as mentioned before and encouragement from their owner.

Protectiveness in dogs differs from dog to dog. Some may be more likely to be protective due to their breed but age, training, and personality also play a part in the protectiveness of a dog.

Reason 7: Some Dogs Have Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is something that many dog owners are faced with. It can be something that troubles both the owners and the dogs themselves. Shockingly, 20% to 40% of dogs are affected by separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is an anxiety that dogs feel when their owners or companions aren’t with them. The dogs feel extreme stress and might seem like they can’t function properly. Dogs that have separation anxiety often become destructive and take their anxiety out on things around the house, resulting in a struggle for the owner as well.

Some dogs might be light sleepers because they can’t seem to rest properly unless they are sure their owner or other animal companion is there with them. They may be anxious that their owners might leave so they try to stay alert.

Other signs of separation anxiety could be a dog sleeping in their owner’s spot or a dog not leaving their owner’s side suddenly.

Reason 8: Your Dog Might Not Feel Well

If a dog suddenly doesn’t act like their usual self, there is a chance that they aren’t feeling well. They may do things that they don’t normally do as a way to tell you that something is wrong.

For a dog that normally sleeps well but recently has become a light sleeper, there might be something hurting or irritating them. They aren’t able to feel comfortable enough to sleep normally.

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s behavior. This allows you to differentiate their unusual behavior from their normal behavior. If you notice something is off about your canine companion, contacting your veterinarian is the best option.

Reason 9: It Depends On Age

As a dog ages, like humans, their body goes through changes. As mentioned before, puppies sleep a lot, they take more naps than an adult dog would.

Puppies and senior dogs tend to sleep more than adult dogs. As mentioned before, when a dog naps more throughout the day, they do it in short increments. Senior dogs are lighter sleepers because they take more naps throughout the day.

Depending on the age of your dog, they might be a lighter sleeper compared to when they were younger.

Check out this video of a cute puppy taking a nap:

Should You Worry About Your Dog Being A Light Sleeper?

If you’re worried about your dog’s sleeping pattern, it’s important to note the context and surroundings. Knowing what is normal for your dog and what isn’t can help you find out if something is bothering them.

Generally, your dog being a light sleeper is not something you need to worry about. However, if you suspect that they suddenly became a light sleeper because they feel uncomfortable due to an injury or illness, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

If you think your dog is a light sleeper because they have separation anxiety, training, plenty of patience, time, and rewards can help your pup face their anxiety. Leaving them for short increments of time and gradually increasing that time can help your dog feel more confident being left alone.

Final Thoughts

Observing your dog’s behavior can help you understand them a little more. Knowing why they do the things they do and why they are the way they are can help you take care of them and communicate better with them.

There is no universal reason why dogs are light sleepers, but many dogs seem to wake up all the time because they are polyphasic sleepers. However, there are other situations in which dogs seem to be awake at the slightest movements and sounds.

If you suspect anything negative or are not sure whether your dog is being bothered by something, don’t feel bad about asking for help from a professional!

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