Just like humans, animals require sleep to stay healthy and to maintain a good quality of life. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation in animals can lead to unintended weight loss, impaired immune systems, infections, inability to regulate body temperature, and even death.
On average, adult dogs need 12-14 hours of sleep per day and adult cats need anywhere from 12-16 hours per day. In fact, cats will start to show early signs of sleep deprivation after only 14 hours of awake time, so it’s important to create a safe, welcoming sleeping space for your pet to help keep them healthy.
While providing a loving home is an important start to keeping your pet happy and healthy, it takes a bit more effort to create a designated sleeping space that will promote quality sleep. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Find A Quiet Spot
Animals don’t like loud noises because they may perceive them as a threat. An example of this is when a cat scurries away or a dog barks at the noise coming from a vacuum. To help your pet feel safe from loud threats, set up their bed in a place where there is minimal noise so they can fall, and stay, asleep.
Create A Bed That Is Warm And Soft
Take a little extra time to set up a sleep space that is warm and inviting. For dogs, invest in a plush dog bed with soft textures and place it somewhere with low light. Since cats are nocturnal, a spot in the sun is ideal not only for the light, but for warmth as well. if you can’t find a spot with a sunbeam, try another warm place, like near a space heater. Cats also like to be perched up high and sleep well on soft pillows or up against fleece blankets.
Establish Routines And Predictability
Cats thrive in environments that are consistent and predictable because it gives them a sense of security and control. Promote a consistent environment by setting up their sleep space in an area that stays relatively calm all day long, like a spare bedroom.
Dogs also do well with predictability, and actually sleep better when there are established sleep hours and a routine. You can develop a routine for your dogs by sticking to one yourself because they will quickly pick up on your cues that it’s time for bed.
Make Your Pet Feel Safe
Pets may not fear monsters under the bed, but they do fear danger and are often on alert for threats. Your pets may consider other animals a threat, whether they are inside the house or just outside the window, or they may fear small children that chase them around. Whatever the fear, try to keep it away from your pet’s bed to make it a safe haven.
You may need to go through a little trial and error with your pets to find the right bed, blankets, or pillows they like, so be patient during the process. If you have done everything you can to create a restful environment but your pet still doesn’t seem to be sleeping well, consult with your veterinarian to be sure there is not a physical/health reason for the sleepless nights.
Guest Author: Mary Lee
Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She specializes in sleep’s role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat.