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While some people find it easier to drift off than others, humans generally need a dark environment to sleep well. Our quality of sleep significantly reduces when there is too much light, making us feel tired and lethargic later on. In contrast, dogs don’t require darkness to sleep, but do they have better quality sleep in dark conditions?
If this interests you, you’re in the right place! You’ll find out whether dogs sleep better in the dark or not below. We’ll also cover if dogs get afraid of the dark, as well as some ways to help anxious dogs at night. Keep reading to find out more!
Do Dogs Have To Sleep In Darkness?
On the whole, dogs don’t need darkness to sleep well. If you own a dog, you’re probably seen your dog asleep when it is bright outside. While humans struggle to sleep in the day, dogs drift off whenever they want to, morning or evening.
Keep in mind that dogs need a lot more sleep than we do, which could be a reason why they can fall asleep whenever. On average, humans need anywhere from 6-9 hours of sleep each night. Dogs, on the other hand, can need more than 16 hours daily. This explains why your pup can be found snoozing peacefully during the day!
Do Dogs Sleep Worse During The Day?
While dogs don’t need the darkness to sleep, we still need to cover whether their sleep quality is better in dark conditions. This can be tricky to assess.
Dogs descend from wolves who are nocturnal creatures. Unlike humans, they snooze in the day and come alive when night falls. Despite this, dogs have been distant from their wolf genes for several centuries. Humans have also owned dogs for the same amount of time.
When dogs passed onto human ownership, their schedule would have adapted to ours, so they would have learned to sleep at night.
This means it’s wise to assume that dogs now sleep better in the dark. Here are a few points that support this theory:
- There is less human activity and noise at night time. These conditions make it easier for a dog’s brain to quieten down, so they reach a deeper level of sleep easily. Their sleep is also longer as it isn’t interrupted by any stimuli, just like humans.
- In most cases, dark conditions create a calming and tranquil environment. This environment tells the brain that it can relax and rest.
- Even though dogs can spend a lot of daylight hours asleep, the majority of their sleep will take place at night. As they follow a human schedule, they’ll be active and use energy during the day. They cease any activity at night, so falling asleep will be easier during this time.
- Similarly, dogs will notice that their owners will follow a sleep routine once it turns dark. Most trained dogs will know that it’s time to go to bed once it’s dark, doing the same as their owners.
These points all suggest that after thousands of years of evolution, dogs will now sleep better in the dark. Nevertheless, you may have seen your dog completely out during the day, so it may be possible that they can get a good forty winks when it’s bright.
Do Dogs Get Scared Of The Dark?
Many dog owners, especially new ones, will wonder if their dog is scared of the dark. At a young age, children can be scared of the dark, but can puppies feel the same?
It may seem like your dog is afraid of the dark, but their behavior is normally due to separation anxiety. Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety, though some breeds can be more prone than others. Separation anxiety occurs when an owner leaves their dog. The anxiety can start happening over several hours, or it can happen immediately within minutes.
Similarly, when it’s dark, we go to bed in another area of our house, leaving our dog in a different room. On other occasions, you may be leaving for longer, like an overnight stay somewhere else.
As this occurs, dogs may connect being left on their own with the dark conditions. This environment may bring on separation anxiety. You may notice your pup howling, crying, or shaking due to nerves.
Overall, your dog shouldn’t be scared of the dark, but they may link the dark conditions with loneliness.
Another point to consider is that dogs can see in the dark much better than we can. When it’s darker, a dog’s eyes are designed to allow more light into their retina, letting them see more at night. It may be dark outside, but your dog will be able to see more than you.
Despite this, if you’re in absolute darkness, without any light sources, a dog’s vision becomes like ours, unable to see anything. If you leave your dog in a pitch-black environment, your dog may be nervous as they can’t see what’s in front of them. It’s natural to be worried about things you cannot see, for humans as well as dogs.
If a dog cannot see, it’ll feel on edge and vulnerable. Dogs may feel like potential threats are more likely, sending them into a panicked state. In most cases, humans aren’t as worried about attackers, but dogs are animals, so they’re more in tune with their instincts.
Is My Dog Scared Of The Dark?
It can be hard to know if your pup is afraid of darkness or not, but here are some things to look out for:
- When you turn off the light in the room, your dog moves to a lit area or towards you.
- If you walk your dog at night, your dog turns back if you’re walking towards a darker path. Some dogs may wait for you to walk ahead of them or stop in their tracks completely.
- Your dog keeps its tail in between its legs when it’s in dark areas. Some dogs may keep their ears back or cower down.
- If the light is turned off, your dog may hide in particular areas around the room. This shows that they’re trying to find a safer area so that they feel at ease.
How To Soothe Anxious Dogs At Night
Here are some tips that may help anxious dogs feel safer in the dark.
If you’ve noticed that your dog has separation anxiety, training can be a great help. Perform the method during the day when your dog is in a relaxed state. Leave the room and shut the door for a few minutes, keeping the dog inside. Go to another room so that they can’t hear you outside of the door. Perform this action several times during the day.
Remember to work up slowly. Your first duration might be five minutes, but over the next few days you may work up to 10. Separation training takes place over a few weeks, not in a day. Try doing it 3-5 times each day, each time a bit longer than the last.
Aim to work up to an hour without your dog becoming anxious. You’ll be slowly making your dog more confident when they’re alone, which could help them feel comfortable when night falls.
Activity During The Evening
Move your dog’s daily exercise towards the evening. This will use up excess energy closer to bedtime, making them tired so they’ll fall asleep quicker. If your dog is tired out, they’ll spend less time before bed being nervous. They’ll also be less likely to be kept awake by their anxiety.
Give Your Pup A Comfort Item
Giving your dog a familiar item can soothe their behavior. Instead of a toy or teddy, give them an item of yours. This could be an old t-shirt or sweater that you’ve worn but not washed. Keeping your smell near your pup can help to keep them relaxed. Before you head off to bed, put your unwashed t-shirt next to your dog. Just remember to use an old one as they may chew it up!
Dogs don’t need dark conditions to sleep, but they may sleep better in the dark compared to when it’s bright. If your dog does seem anxious in the dark, this is normally due to separation anxiety. If your dog suffers from this, try our tips above and see if their condition improves.