I thought I’d introduce a bit more about what Amber Batson is referring to when she talks about the importance of sleep for dogs.
First, why is this important to understand?
According to Amber, many of our domestic dogs are not in a situation where they can sleep at a level deep enough to achieve REM sleep. Dogs need 20-50% of their sleep time/day to be REM. I’ll explain why below, but the first question to ask is: have you set up your home and your lifestyle so your dog is able to sleep deeply enough to reach the REM stage?
What our dogs need for relaxed sleep:
When you think of the criteria a dog needs to sleep twelve hours a day (in order to maintain homeostasis in her life), one can begin to understand why veterinarians such as Amber Batson link increased stress and reactivity to the elements of a dog’s life at home. The great part of this is we can meet all these needs of our dogs!
The second section is the discussion of why REM sleep is so important in all our lives. Amber gave us a number of studies showing how, in humans, just one night of sleep deprivation led to increased “oh, what was that?!?” feelings, worry, a slowed ability to learn, and other types of over-reactivity to normal events in one’s life. REM sleep gives us all a chance to rebalance – not just mentally, but physically when it comes to stress chemicals in our brain.
A quote from the NIH says it well,
Sleep is an important part of your daily routine—you spend about one-third of your time doing it. Quality sleep – and getting enough of it at the right times — is as essential to survival as food and water. Without sleep you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it’s harder to concentrate and respond quickly.
Amber Batson also talked about brain pathways, but I’ll save that for another lesson!
There are many sleep studies in the human world showing the importance of good, deep, adequate sleep. But, the take away message from Amber is to do all we can do to help our domestic dogs sleep well – and honor what they try to do in order to achieve this!
I’d love to hear what you think and if you have any questions. Please email me at email@example.com with your observations and questions. And, if you change anything in your dog’s life to accommodate her needs regarding sleep, do you see less stress and more relaxation?