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Should Puppies Sleep in the Dark? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Dog sleeping in his orange bad by the night light

Should Puppies Sleep in the Dark? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Pups require lots of sleep to grow. Without it, they won’t be able to develop properly. They need a safe, cushy, and cozy bed where they can catch some Zs and gather much-needed strength. 

But should a pup sleep in the dark? The answer is yes: a dog that sleeps in the dark or in dim light sleeps better and stays healthier.

Besides, when it’s dark outside, that gives the pet’s brain a “signal”, and the body starts to produce melatonin. However, puppies can (and often do) sleep during the day. So, how do you train them to snooze off on time? Let’s find out!

Puppy Age Breakdown

As PetMD puts it, a dog is a pup until the moment they reach sexual maturity and they are ready to mate.1 The exact time when that happens varies depending on the breed. On average, dogs hit puberty approximately when they turn 6 months old. After that, they’re considered juniors; at 12 months, your furry buddy becomes an adult. Often, dogs might be called pups until they’re around 1 year old.

The smaller the dog, the sooner they will be able to reproduce; if they are a large boy/girl, they will stay a puppy a bit longer.

partu yorkshire terrier puppy outdoors
Image By: Vivienstock, Shutterstock

Do Pups Need to Go to Bed in the Dark?

Just like most animals, puppies tend to fall asleep when it gets dark. This has to do with their circadian rhythms: cycles that serve as an “inner clock”. They control the sleep/wake cycle and launch various processes in the body throughout the day. Dogs follow a diurnal circadian rhythm. Without this rhythm, the dog will have a hard time knowing when they should go to sleep.

This doesn’t mean you won’t catch your pup napping in broad daylight. Canines need a lot more time to sleep than we do (we’ll get to that in a moment), and that’s why it’s common for them to fall into the dreamland during the day. It’s mostly light sleep, though: the deep sleep cycles kick in when it’s pitch-black outside.

Will My Puppy Rest Through the Whole Night?

At first, the answer is no, and, as a pet parent, you have to be aware of this. The thing is—pups rarely sleep through the night without waking up for bathroom breaks. On average, they wake up to relieve themselves 2–3 times during the night. And you’ll probably hear the pup calling you when they need to do a number one or two.

But this won’t last forever. With potty training, the pup should be able to get a good night’s sleep without any interruptions in 6–8 months or even sooner. To put things into perspective, a 5 or 6-month pup won’t have a problem sleeping through the night. However, a 2-month doggo will wake up every 2–3 hours or so.

Should I Leave a Nightlight On?

Animal bodies increase melatonin secretion during the night hours, and in this regard, puppies are just like humans. So, the darker the room, the easier it will probably be for the dog to fall asleep. But dogs can’t see in complete darkness, and sometimes, puppies may refuse to enter a dark room. In that case, leave the nightlight on.

What About Adult Dogs?

Just like us, the sleeping habits change once puppies turn into juniors, adults, and senior dogs. Older dogs sleep much more during the day and night and have shorter but more frequent sleep bouts during the day. So they benefit greatly from dozing off when the sun sets and it gets dark outside. Besides, by the time puppies grow into adults, their bodies will have already developed adequate sleeping habits.

beagle dog sleeping on pillow
Image By: Przemek Iciak, Shutterstock

How Much Sleep Do Puppies Need?

Pups tend to be hyperactive: they want your full attention, and, at times, it may seem like they can go on 24/7. However, newborns only spend 10% of the day with their eyes open! That’s right: pups that haven’t reached 8 weeks of age yet will be sleeping for most of the day, around 20–22 hours every day. Once they approach the 16-week range, expect them to snooze away for 12 to 14 hours.

After that, the sleeping time might be reduced to approximately 12 hours, but there will be plenty of extra resting periods during the day. Older doggos will spend more time sleeping than adult dogs. If we compared that to how much time adult humans spend in bed (7–8 hours), that’s almost twice as much. So, don’t be worried if your furry friend sleeps for 90% of the day—that’s totally normal!

Sleep Deprivation: The Biggest Downsides

When puppies sleep, their bodies use that time to grow. The central nervous system, muscles, bones, and organs mostly develop when the pup is getting some shut-eye. Sleep may also contribute to a dog’s memory consolidation. The consequences of sleep deprivation are severe. The immune system becomes weaker and fails to protect the pup from infections and parasites. Mentally, the pet will become more anxious and restless and may even develop destructive habits.

Tips for Training a Pup to Sleep on Schedule

If you’ve ever tried to make a pup sleep on command, you already know that it’s no small task. But there are certain things you can do to help the tiny pet doze off on time. Start by exhausting the pup. Once they run out of breath, the body will automatically shut down and go to sleep. So, if you play with them in the evening after work, chances are that they will go to bed roughly around the same time you do!

Puzzles and toys will keep them occupied while you’re away, but one-on-one playtime is still very important. That said, new experiences could excite the pup to the extent that they won’t be able to sleep for an extra hour or so. Also, don’t forget about hydration and food. Ideally, the pet should drink some water and have a meal at least 2–3 hours before falling asleep. This way, they will have plenty of time to use the bathroom.

mother introducing a havanese puppy dog to her son
Image By: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Ideal Sleeping Conditions for a Pup: A Quick Guide

If you want your puppy to get their fair share of “beauty sleep”, make sure the room is not only dark but also silent. Sudden noises will interrupt its sleep and make it difficult to get back into the deep phase. You don’t necessarily have to turn off every gadget when the pup falls asleep, though. Instead, try lowering the volume and brightness level. To battle the morning sun, invest in blackout drapes.

As for the crate, cushy, cozy, and spacious is what you should aim for. At first, the pup might not like their bed or crate very much. But if you implement sleep training and be patient with it, that will change quickly.

Summing Up

Puppies are amazing: they’re sweet, affectionate, and can make our hearts melt ten times a day. Plus, they grow really fast. From puppyhood to seniorhood, it’s up to us to take care of them. A pup is a tiny, vulnerable baby. So, feed them the best food, create the perfect sleeping conditions for the pet, and invest time in potty training.

Now, while most dog breeds prefer to hit the sack when it’s dark outside, they can also fall asleep during the day. Still, if you want your furry family members to get enough rest and grow into healthy canine citizens, make sure their room is pitch black when they sleep!

Featured Image Credit: Daniel Besic, Shutterstock

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