Humans have a natural inclination to sleep at night. In fact, most adults spend anywhere from 7 to 9 hours each night sleeping. But contrary to popular belief, there are far more benefits to sleeping than just reducing fatigue or increasing our energy levels. While we don’t fully understand all of the ways that sleep affects our bodies, we do know that sleep plays an essential role in protecting our health. It’s during this time that our bodies are able to restore and repair cells and tissues, process memories, and generally recover from the day’s activities. Our pets, however, don’t have the same biological need for sleep that we do. In fact, some research suggests that they can survive for years without a single night of rest. But does that mean that they don’t need to sleep at all?
How Sleep Helps Dogs Stay Healthy
Just like with humans, sleep plays an important role in keeping our pets healthy. When we think of “health,” we typically refer to our physical well-being. But a healthy body also requires a healthy mind. Our pets’ bodies and minds work together to keep them healthy and functioning. When our pets’ bodies are not functioning properly, they often develop health problems. Problems with the body include infection, illness or injury, and disease. Mental illness is often referred to as “mental” or “behavioral” disorders. Examples of these types of conditions include separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and hyperactivity.
The Benefits Of Sleep For Dogs
While the function of sleep in animals isn’t quite the same as in humans, there are several benefits to getting a good night’s sleep. Here are some of the ways that our furry friends benefit from a good night of rest.
Reduces Stress And Anxiety
When you experience stress, your body releases a number of chemicals, including cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones help to prepare you for “fight or flight” situations. While having a stress response is important for dealing with dangerous or stressful situations, it can also cause your pet to experience stress and anxiety. In extreme cases, this can lead to chronic stress, which can, in turn, lead to serious health problems. Sleeping is one of the most effective ways to reduce the effects of stress and combat the stress hormone, cortisol.
Studies have shown that our memory is stronger when we have gotten a good amount of sleep. This makes sense, given that our memories and cognitive abilities are tied to our brains. When we sleep, the brain is able to consolidate the memories that we’ve learned the previous day and file them away for later use. This consolidation also allows us to process the emotions that we encountered during the day.
Boosts Immune System
In order to fight off infections and diseases, the immune system relies on energy. This energy comes from food, but it also comes during sleep. The immune system is most active during the night, and it helps the red blood cells function more efficiently.
Promotes Growth And Development
Just like with humans, sleep plays a critical role in growth and development. Our bodies release growth hormones during deep sleep, which promote growth and tissue repair. When we don’t have enough time to sleep, our body cannot absorb all of the nutrients and vitamins that we need to grow and develop properly.
How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?
The amount of sleep that your pet needs will depend on their age, species, and breed. Puppies and kittens, for example, require more sleep than older pets. It’s also important to consider factors like their size, weight, and overall health. Most experts recommend that puppies get between 14 and 18 hours of sleep per day. This amount gradually decreases as they get older. Cats are typically able to get by on about 12 hours of sleep each day.
Common Sleep Disorders In Dogs
Just as with humans, there are many things that can cause your pet to experience a lack of sleep. One of the most common sleep disorders in canines is “separation anxiety.” This occurs when they display signs of distress when their owners leave. These signs can include excessive barking, urinating, or scratching at doors. Other common causes of sleep deprivation in dogs are arthritis, chronic pain, and hyperthyroidism.
While we may not be entirely sure why our dogs and cats need to sleep, we know that it’s an important part of their health and well-being. The amount of time that they need to sleep will also vary depending on a number of factors. As such, it’s important to pay attention to your pet’s behavior and habits to determine when they might be experiencing fatigue or restlessness. If you notice that your pet is having trouble sleeping, then it’s possible that there’s a medical problem that’s causing them to feel anxious or stressed. It’s important to speak with a veterinarian as soon as possible.