6 Simple Tips to Help Your Pup Sleep Better at Night
Dogs don’t always align with our sleep schedule. Especially with puppies, just like babies, there’s an element of training that goes into helping our pups sleep through the night.
Just as sleep is crucial for us to function at our best, it’s paramount for your dog as well. If you want your pup to be happy, healthy, and full of love for you, then you should pay attention to their sleep.
Puppies need sleep training, but elder and aging dogs often suffer from sleeplessness too. As such, this is a problem for pups of all ages.
And if they’re waking you up at night all the time, your incentive to help them will be even more obvious. Your sleep is at stake here too. Here are five tips to help your pup sleep better at night.
Take Them on a Morning Walk
A morning walk? But, I thought we were talking about sleeping at night. Yes, we are. You see, dog’s sleep according to similar hormonal cycles to humans. These are a series of relatively complex processes which we often call the “circadian rhythm” for simplicity's sake.
What our pets do at all points in the day govern their circadian rhythm. When they go for a walk in the morning, they expose themselves to sunlight and movement. This is a double whammy for improving sleep. It increases the hormones that keep mammals alert and awake, at the time of day when we want them higher.
While these hormones, called “sympathetic hormones” keep us alert and awake, they prevent us from sleeping, so we want them to be high during the day which allows them to lower as our pup’s bedtime approaches.
This is the circadian rhythm in action.
Not to mention, they’ll get all kinds of other health benefits that come from sunlight and exercise. And you will too.
Limit Activity in The Evening
If your dog wants to play with all their toys at 11pm at night, try physically separating them from activities that will easily get them riled up. In other words, keep the toys in a room they don’t have access to after a certain time.
Lots of movement in the hours leading into bedtime will raise these sympathetic hormones which will keep them falling asleep or sleeping soundly.
Of course, a little walk in the evening is fine, but playing games like fetch, or having your dog set up in their toy room is a recipe for sleepless nights.
Don’t Take This Too Far, They Still Need to go Pee
Another common culprit of dog’s not being able to sleep is one of the same reasons our elder generation humans don’t: they need to pee. A before-bed leisurely walk is important for your dog to sleep well without needing to use the bathroom, just try to keep it at a relaxing pace.
If they start to bark at moving squirrels, they’re going to activate the sympathetic hormones that will keep them awake.
Make Sure They Have a Designated Sleeping Area
Adjacent to this, if their toys are everywhere, making every room of the house the play room, then their brains won’t have clear boundaries for wake and sleep time. They will come to associate all the time as playtime. If they sleep with you in the bedroom, make sure the bedroom has a comfy bed with few distractions.
They will come to associate the bedroom with sleep, which will help their brains know when it’s time to wind down: when they get into the bedroom.
Establish Consistent Sleep and Wake Times
Just like humans, dogs function best when on a consistent schedule. Often you’ll see that they’re already better at it than us, because on those weekends when you want to sleep in they may attack you with snuggles and slobbery kisses while you’re still half-dreaming.
This helps them calibrate their bathroom break schedule as well as their circadian rhythms.
For better or worse, you may also have to start sticking to this schedule, so their bathroom breaks can sync up on a consistent schedule and they won’t have to get up to pee.
Use The Right Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin is what we call a “parasympathetic” hormone. It does the opposite as those hormones that keep our peps alert and awake when they move and get some sunlight in the morning. It’s crucial for falling asleep and staying asleep.
Giving your pup a melatonin supplement with their dinner (or even after dinner) will, almost guaranteed, help them sleep. However, there are a few caveats to this.
First, you don’t want to give puppies melatonin all the time. Their circadian rhythms are still developing, and giving them exogenous melatonin can stunt their natural production. They can become dependent on it.
Older dogs can become dependent on it too, but this is much less important because they are, well, they’re old. As sad as it is, something else will take them out before their lack of melatonin production does, but you may need to give them a melatonin supplement for the rest of their life.
Second, as we’ve written about, the pet supplement industry is full of crap. It’s one of the only industries with specific authorization to break FDA rules. Yes, this is absolutely insane, and it means a lot of pet food and supplements contain all kinds of dangerous crap.
In fact, this is why Pup Labs exists, because we’re determined to only provide the highest quality ingredients for our pups.
Improve Your Own Sleep Habits
Obviously, we love our pets with all our hearts. But I don’t think many dog owners would say that they make life easier. As we like to say, they make life better, but harder.
They push us to be our best.
They watch what we do, and are often mirrors for how we live our life. If we have wildly inconsistent sleep patterns, we shouldn’t be upset with our dog when they mirror us, and wake up in the middle of the night ready to wrestle a stuffed squirrel toy.
If we eat at consistent hours and forget to feed our dog at similar hours, don’t be surprised when this throws off their sleep (and bathroom) rhythm.
If you don’t get exercise and move, how will your pup? They’re mirrors for how we live our life, and they push us to be our best. This isn’t a specific tip, but a call to action to look at your lifestyle, and see where it can improve. It may just improve your pup’s life: their happiness, their routines, their stress.
And in doing so, you’ll improve your own as well.