Pets Sleep The Night Away In Style7 min read
WHY DO PETS NEED SLEEP?
Pets sleep as much as humans do. People without adequate sleep are often irritable and cannot concentrate on a task at hand. Reaction times are much longer when driving without sufficient sleep. This is dangerous. Dogs and cats do not drive cars but all pets sleep. No one knows why anyone needs sleep. Sleeping has been described as a total waste of time. From a physiological point of view that statement is not true. The body cannot keep on going at a rapid pace 24/7. It needs to rest and regroup for the following day. While pets sleep the levels of cortisol (a naturally produced steroid manufactured in the adrenal glands) decrease. This slows down body functions including heart, respiratory rate and body temperature. Mammalian bodies are in a sort of temporary suspension. The important thing is that the vital organs (heart and lungs) keep on working even while pets sleep. Pets and humans have no control over this. This is known as the autonomic nervous system. Extreme changes in physiological sleep behavior is known as hibernation. This is what bears and other mammals do.
Sleep also decreases stress and helps to stimulate the immune system. Dogs and cats just have a different type of stress in their lives. They do not have jobs or have to pay taxes but there are many triggers that can induce stress in dogs or cats. In animal hospitals you will notice that many of the hospitalized animals are sleeping. They may be sick or just got out of surgery but they are sleeping. This encourages healing. Animals that have a fever are treated with antibiotics. Yet fever, when controlled, also stimulates the immune system. Combined with sleep, it helps to heal the body. That is what “cage (bed) rest” is for! Everything done in medicine has a reason behind it.
SLEEP AMOUNTS VARY WITH THE AGE OF THE ANIMAL
Pets sleep different and varying amounts depending upon their age. Young infants like the ones pictured above seem to sleep the majority of 24 hours per day. They wake up next to their warm mother and nurse. As they get older they socialize with their siblings but to a large extent sleep many hours of the day. Their brains and bodies are developing at such a rapid rate that cellular growth requires rest! The animal passes into adulthood and will sleep amounts similar to human adults. As the pet becomes a senior citizen it sleeps longer hours and takes naps throughout the day. This is similar to people.
Do pets dream? They sure do! Do they suffer from insomnia? Yes they do but for different reasons than people. The majority of animals that suffer from insomnia are usually older dogs and cats. The most common reason for insomnia in pets is the pain associated with arthritis. Pain is so intense that the animal cannot get into a painless position to sleep. Acute pain associated with ear infections and dental issues will also lead to insomnia. Dogs with cognitive deficiency syndrome share symptoms of those with people with Alzheimer’s disease. These animals will pace throughout the night and never get to sleep. In both cases animals are irritable and not their normal selves. Noting any of the above situations warrants a trip to your veterinarian.
PLACES WHERE PETS SLEEP
Pets sleep in different places. We all know where cats will sleep- just about anywhere. You will find them fast asleep in old soda boxes or any box for that matter. I have been told that I could sleep upside down or on a bed of nails. True. Just like a cat I can sleep anywhere. Dogs are a little bit more refined. The prize destination is a comfy bed. I said nothing about them wanting to share that comfy bed. They don’t. Either that or by their master on the floor is supreme. These sleeping places can be annoying for humans. If the animal is dealing with a skin allergy owners will hear a thump…thump…thump sound on the flooring. If this occurs in a bed it will surely wake them at any hour.
Some pets sleep outdoors. Many a Beagle dog will be found sound asleep outside in a pen even though the outdoor temperature is a few degrees above zero. Bring them inside and they will just sit there and pant. I used to own a dog like that in Ohio. It hated to be indoors. I built a dog house for the animal but the dog preferred sleeping by the side of it instead of in it. When it snowed at night I would look out and see the dog covered with inches of snow. I just shrugged.
Some dogs just seem to want to sleep wherever they choose. Who says things don’t go better with Coke®?
HOW TO GET THE YOUNGSTERS TO SLEEP!
Cats are a breeze. They sleep about 23.5 out of 24 hours in a day. No problem with that. Puppies can be difficult to get to sleep. That is natural if you consider what a young animal has been through. It has been separated from its mother, siblings and has to deal with or get used to new human family members. That is stressful for them. So go ahead and pick them up and kiss them and they will eventually go back to sleep. But they really are babies. And like young babies they will not sleep through the night.
If you can raise a child you can raise a dog. The latter is a million times easier. You want to make sure that the puppy has a place it can call its own. That could be a crate or a soft pet bed. Before bedtime tire the animal out. Take it for a short walk or play with it for a while. Make sure it has a full stomach and has gone out to potty. All of this encourages sleep. Plug in a radio on a counter and tune it to a talk radio station. The sound of human voices is comforting to the animal and it will be fast asleep in no time.
The only caveat is to never wake or startle a dog. They are scared in most instances and could bite so be careful. The old saying to “let a sleeping dog lie” was made just for that reason.