What types of sleep stages do dogs experience?

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If you have a dog, you are most likely very familiar with the sleeping patterns of your four-legged friend. Dogs can sleep up to 18 hours a day, depending on their lifestyle and environment. While dogs who are active or serve a specific purpose, such as a police dog or a farm dog will only sleep around 10 hours a day, sedentary dogs can sleep much longer. Sleeping patterns can also vary depending on breed type.

Just like humans, dogs have a REM sleep stage and slow-wave sleep stage. Although dogs tend to sleep longer than humans, they wake up much more frequently and spend a fair amount of time in the slow-wave sleep stage. When a dog first falls asleep, he enters into the slow-wave sleep phase and becomes completely relaxed. After approximately 10 to 20 minutes, a dog will enter into REM sleep. This is when a dog’s eyelids will flutter, muscles will twitch and audible sounds may be heard.

Dogs normally spend about 10 percent of their time asleep in the REM sleep stage.  During this stage, it’s thought that dogs can have dreams as evidenced by their neural activity and similarity to human sleep stages. If you notice that your dog is sleeping more than usual during the day and not sleeping at night, try stimulating your dog with exercise or toys during the day to keep him awake and alert for longer periods of time.

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