Our domestic pets, just like us experience two phases of sleep, SWS & REM. Short Wave Sleep (SWS) is the first phase of sleep, much like we experience. The second phase, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is the dream phase where the brain is highly active but the pet is unresponsive to the environment. It is quite common for your pet to twitch, howl or vocalise during this period of sleep. Interestingly, dogs and cats spend about 24% of their sleep time in REM.
Sleep is an important aspect of your pet's health. Sleep is a restorative process for your pet's brain and body. It allows them to recover, develop and strengthen their immune systems.
So, how do you create the best environment for your pet to get a sound night’s sleep?
There are several factors to help your pet get a good sleep. Routine plays a large role in this.
For cats, they are crepuscular, meaning they are far more active between dusk and dawn! Being hardwired to chase and hunt predominantly at night, you may find your cat spends a lot of time ‘cat napping’ through the day.
Try not to engage or stimulate your pet at night with active play as this can disrupt their sleep patterns. There are pheromone products that can assist with settling cats, these work 24 hours a day!
Prepare your pet's meals at the same time each day. For adults, 2 meals each day, morning and night maintains a healthy routine. Make sure they have been feed a few hours before sleep to help with digestion and toileting. For indoor dogs, make sure you let them out to go to the toilet before bed time.
Finally, creating a comfy sleeping area that your pet will use is key. For many pets, this will vary. Ensure that your pet has adequate warmth.Plenty of fleece-lined bedding with high walls and some blankets are suitable for dogs during winter, whereas in summer, a trampoline style bed with a mattress may be more suitable.
For cats, it is critical that they feel safe and secure when they sleep. Cats are physiologically wired to hunt prey. When they rest in the wild they will find a safe den to protect themselves so providing a safe secure area will meet the needs of their primal instinct. Cats love to sleep in cat cubbies or cat igloos where they are surrounded by walls similar as they would have done in their wild den!
If you can maintain warmth for your dog or cat this will ensure they don’t wake up cold and come looking to get into bed with you! There are heated beds available for cats and dogs that are low voltage, self heating or, heat pads that can be microwaved and will radiate heat all night.
If you have an outdoor kennel or igloo for your dog or cat, make sure this is warm and dry, otherwise, they won’t use them.
Often a cuddly soft toy will help your pet settle into sleep. A cuddle toy will provide warmth and there are some that you can put old clothes that you have worn into. Your pet will find your smell in this toy & will settle more easily. These are recommended for dogs using kennels or for new pups while they are learning to sleep through the night.
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