What Can Dogs Take to Sleep?

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Introduction

Ever been trying to take a nap or go to sleep for the evening and your pooch just doesn't seem to want to calm down? It's the worst when you're tired and just want to catch some shut-eye. There is a multitude of reasons why your dog may be restless, not want to sleep or have trouble falling asleep, and many of those reasons are what humans face as well.

If your dog is having trouble sleeping, there are some things you may be able to give Fido to help them get to sleep and stay asleep. Let's check out some of the best options for your dog!

Signs of a Dog Who is Having Trouble Sleeping

There are many different signs that can lead you to believe your dog is having trouble sleeping, particularly at night when you are going to sleep yourself. There are also a ton of reasons why your dog cannot sleep well at night, which we will take a further look at later in the article. 

If your dog cannot sleep, they will generally pace around like they seem bored or don't know what to do with themselves. This is because they either are not tired or they cannot get comfortable enough to sleep so, in return, they aimlessly pace around. 

Your dog may also seem to have a ton of energy and want to play with you, play with toys, or run around the house. This can become very disruptive to your sleep schedule and cause insomnia issues in your life as well. 

You also may notice they bark at you or want attention when you are trying to go to sleep or are settling down for the night. They may bark, howl, whine, growl at you, or any combination of the above, which can be equally as frustrating and disruptive. Some dogs may even bark or whine all night long because they cannot get to sleep, become stressed, and then whine, bark, or cry even more.

You may also notice that your dog cannot seem to get comfortable. They will often try and lay down, get up and move to another spot, and repeat this process for a long time before they eventually tire out enough and fall asleep out of pure exhaustion. This is not healthy for your dog, as they need to get their rest at night so they are refreshed and not cranky the following morning, much like we see in humans as well! 

Body Language

Here are some signs you may notice if your dog has trouble sleeping:
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Jumping up
  • Pacing
  • Yawning

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you may notice if your dog has trouble sleeping:
  • Hyper-energetic
  • Keeps bothering you to get up
  • Cannot get comfortable

History of Dogs and Insomnia

Dogs have likely always had trouble sleeping at one time or another, both before and after domestication. If we look back to when dogs were not domesticated animals, they would sleep outside and often have to be alert enough to sense when predators were near or if they had to move their location and their pack's location quickly, for any number of reasons. 

Although dogs do not have to worry about most of their situations today, they can still have trouble sleeping at night and it can affect their quality of life. Some of the reasons your dog may have trouble sleeping, or may even suffer from insomnia, are due to factors like too much built-up energy, loneliness, a health issue, depression, anxiety, and more. 

Many dog owners have issues with their dog's sleep and it affects their sleep schedule and quality of life as well. For example, one lady had trouble with her dog barking at night. In fact, the dog would bark and whine relentlessly all night and everyone family member suffered because of their dog's insomnia and constant barking. 

After a few years of this issue, the family found out their dog likely had separation anxiety and that was the cause of the barking and inability to sleep at night. Once they got to the bottom of the issue, they were able to take steps to treat their dog's condition and the dog was eventually able to sleep peacefully throughout the night. 

Science Behind Dogs and Sleep Disorders

A sleep disorder prevents your dog from getting the proper amount of sleep at night and especially prevents them from getting enough REM sleep. REM is so important because this is the stage where they dream and it's responsible for giving humans and dogs restful and rejuvenating sleep. There are four kinds of sleeping disorders that are the most common in dogs and they include insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and REM behavior disorder/periodic limb movement. 

Insomnia essentially means they have trouble sleeping, falling asleep and staying asleep and being able to go back to bed quickly. Dogs likely get insomnia due to another issue like a health problem, anxiety, depression, or something like this. 

Narcolepsy is when dogs have sleep attacks that include sudden muscle weakness and paralysis when they are awake. This is often very scary for your dog and cause issues with their REM cycle. 

Sleep apnea is when your dog snores a lot but it is caused by breathing issues. Your dog may even temporarily stop breathing as well. This can wake them up a lot throughout the night making it hard for them to sleep. 

Lastly, REM behavior disorder is when dogs paw at the air or move their limbs around when they are asleep. If your dog has a severe case, they can get up, run into walls, bite, bark, or growl - all in their sleep! This can cause them to wake up during the night and not feel refreshed once they are awake. 

Helping Your Dog Sleep Better

If you find your dog is having trouble sleeping at night, you may be wondering if you can give them something to help them sleep better. It is generally a good idea to never give your dog any type of medication without consulting your vet first. Even natural supplements should be discussed with your vet to make 100% sure what you give them will not have any terrible side effects and will not be dangerous, or even deadly, for your dog. 

If you have exhausted all other options, you can generally get a sleep aid prescription from your vet. You vet may talk to you about the option of Benadryl to help your dog sleep better at night. If that does not work or your dog cannot take that type of medication, stronger prescription drugs may also be provided as a last resort. 

You can investigate some natural supplements and solutions as well. There are safe types of herbs that can help your dog sleep at night like passionflower and valerian root. They both have calming properties so your dog can fall asleep easier and feel more relaxed at night. 

You can also experiment with flower essences. These are very helpful for warding off any negative emotions your dog may have at night like depression, fear, and anxiety. You will want to see and speak with a holistic vet in order to get the right kinds of flower essence and proper dosage for your dog. 

How To React If Your Dog Has a Sleeping Disorder:

  • Remain calm and seek help.
  • Don't lock them away alone.
  • Speak to your vet about things you can give them.

Safety Tips for Dogs with Sleeping Disorders

  • Make sure they don't have any health issues that are causing the sleep troubles.
  • Don't ignore the issue. If things don't seem to be getting better, go see your vet!

We Want to Hear How You Have Treated Your Dog's Sleeping Disorder!