Dogs Do Not Sleep Well When They Are Stressed – Says Scientists

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How well does your dog sleep?

Hungarian researchers have recently proved that a bad day could meant that your dog will not sleep peacefully, after recording the brain waves of 16 canines over a three hour time span. Dogs who were stressed had at least 20 fewer minutes of non-REM ‘deep sleep’ compared to happy dogs who had just played a game and fussed over by their owners.

Dr Anna Kis from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, who leads the study, stated: ‘In humans, stress causes difficulty falling asleep, whereas dogs fall asleep more quickly – we think as a protective measure to remove themselves from the stressful environment.’ The study had surprising results – dogs do get lesser and poorer sleep after a negative experience, just like we do.

The researchers measured the sleep of dogs including a golden retriever, Labrador, sheepdog and Jack Russell with sleep-recording equipment. Each dog faced either a positive or negative experience before falling asleep.

‘Happy’ dogs had spent six minutes of play with lots of love and petting from their owners.
The ‘unhappy’ group of canines were left alone on a leash tied to a door while being ignored by their owner, without any eye contact other than unwanted stares given by another human researcher.

The ‘unhappy’ dogs fell asleep within 10 minutes, which could be their strategy to prevent any further stress. The happy dogs took longer to fall asleep – around 20 minutes or so.  Both groups of dogs slept for the same amount of time, but the ‘unhappy’ dogs experienced greatly disturbed and turbulent patterns of REM sleep – with a mere 40 to 50 minutes of deep non-REM sleep,  as compared to an hour for the happier canines.

The conclusion? Pet owners beware – a longer time a lack of good quality sleep could stop your dog from consolidating memories and coping with their emotions, such as balancing out aggression.  It is important to remember that both positive and negative experiences greatly affect our dogs’ sleep patterns – a happy dog is a dog who sleeps peacefully and quietly.

What do you think ?