How Much Do Puppies Sleep?

LAST UPDATED November 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Nicole du Plessis BVSc (Hons)


Puppy Sleep Patterns by Age

Understanding Dog Sleep Cycles

Factors Influencing Puppy Sleep

Training Puppies to Sleep Through the Night

Signs of Sleep Concerns

Further reading

Puppies are bursting with energy, so naturally they need plenty of sleep for more puppy antics! Sleep is an essential aspect of a puppy's development and overall wellbeing. Puppies are constantly learning and experiencing many things for the first time, so they require ample rest for growth and cognitive development.

Puppy Sleep Patterns by Age

Newborn puppies spend nearly all of their time sleeping or nursing from the mother. At this stage, they are incapable of seeing, hearing, or regulating their body temperature effectively. Sleep helps them conserve energy and allowing rapid growth. As your puppy grows and becomes more active, they will be awake for longer and longer periods. However, they still need on average 18-20 hours of sleep per day! As you can imagine, it's exhausting being a puppy! As they grow and develop, they will learn to play and develop social skills with littermates, explore their surroundings and meet new people. Usually after a big play or meal, it's time to snooze. Puppies can nap during the day anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours.

Understanding Dog Sleep Cycles

Like adult dogs, puppies go through sleep cycles that include two main phases: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is when most dreaming occurs. During this phase, a puppy's brain is active and their eyes move rapidly beneath their closed eyelids. Non-REM sleep is a deeper sleep phase.

The ratio of REM to non-REM sleep varies throughout the night, with more REM sleep occurring in the early morning hours. Understanding these sleep cycles can help you plan activities and rest times for your puppy.

Factors Influencing Puppy Sleep

Several factors can influence a puppy's sleep patterns:

  1. Age: Puppies, like human babies, need more sleep than adult dogs. Younger puppies may sleep up to 18 to 20 hours a day, gradually decreasing as they grow.
  2. Breed: Different breeds have varying energy levels and sleep requirements. Larger and giant breeds will often snooze for longer than their smaller breed counterparts. Working dogs and guardian dogs may stay awake for longer periods instinctively to prioritise their work.
  3. Exercise: Puppies with higher activity levels tend to sleep more soundly. Regular play and exercise help burn excess energy, promoting better sleep.
  4. Environmental Factors: The sleep environment plays a crucial role. A quiet, comfortable, and secure space can contribute to restful sleep. Ensure your puppy has their own cosy, comfortable bed and a quiet place to retreat.
  5. Feeding Schedule: Meal times and feeding schedules can impact a puppy's sleep. Puppies may sleep more after meals, and establishing a regular feeding routine helps regulate their sleep-wake cycle.

Training Puppies to Sleep Through the Night

Unfortunately, not many puppies will sleep through the night and this can be completely normal. While they are young, they will need frequent toilet breaks. A good rule is their age in months will equal the number of times they will need to eliminate throughout the night. However, there are some tips which can help you and your puppy get a good night's rest:

  1. Establish a Routine: Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time for your puppy. Consistency is key to helping them adjust to a sleep schedule. It can also assist owners with planning activities around the pup's sleep times.
  2. Limit Naps: Adult dogs are polyphasic, diurnal animals. This means they do the majority of their sleeping at night, with naps during the day. If your puppy takes multiple, long naps during the day, they may struggle to sleep at night. Encourage shorter, more frequent naps but do remember that puppies will still need up to 18 hours of sleep each day.
  3. Use a Crate: A crate can provide a safe and secure sleeping space for your puppy, it is also a wonderful training tool. It can also help to toilet train your puppy, as they do not like to soil where they sleep. If you do choose to crate train, make sure you give your puppy opportunities to go to the toilet throughout the night. They may cry or become anxious if they are uncomfortable and need to eliminate.
  4. Avoid Late Meals: Feeding close to bedtime can lead to night time bathroom breaks. Try to finish meals a few hours before bedtime which gives plenty of time to have a final bathroom break before bedtime.
  5. Create a Bedtime Ritual: Establish a calming evening routine, and try to pick something that can be done consistently. This can include an afternoon short walk if fully vaccinated, playtime, or a gentle grooming session, followed by feeding to signal to your puppy that it's time to sleep.

Signs of Sleep Concerns

While it's normal for puppies to sleep a lot, it's essential to be aware of signs that may indicate sleep concerns:

  1. Excessive Sleeping: If your puppy sleeps far more than the average recommended amount, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. It is normal for puppies to want to nap after a big meal, but if your puppy becomes lethargic straight after every meal, this can be a sign of a liver shunt.
  2. Restlessness: Frequent waking, pacing, or an inability to settle down during sleep could indicate discomfort or anxiety. There are anxiety aids which can be very helpful when settling in a puppy to a sleep routine.
  3. Loud Snoring or Laboured Breathing: These symptoms may suggest respiratory or structural problems, such as brachycephalic upper syndrome in flat-faced breeds like French Bulldogs and British Bulldogs.
  4. Sudden Changes in Sleep Patterns: If your puppy's sleep patterns abruptly change, consult your vet to rule out any medical or behavioural issues.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

Causes of vomiting in dogs.

Obesity in dogs and cats.

3 daily habits to improve your pet's health.

Pregnant dog guide.

5 ways to help ease your dog's arthritis.


  1. How Many Hours Does a Dog Sleep in a Day? Pet MD
  2. How to Get Your Puppy on a Healthy Sleeping SchedulePet MD
  3. How Much Sleep Do Puppies Need? Chewy
  4. How to Make Sure Your Puppy Gets Enough Sleep American Kennel Association
  5. How much sleep do puppies need? Vets for Pets

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