Do Dogs Sleep Better in the Dark? What to Expect

As devoted pet owners, we often wonder about our furry companions’ well-being, including their sleep patterns. One intriguing question that arises is whether dogs sleep better in the dark. 

While dogs have adapted to live alongside humans, their sleeping habits are influenced by their evolutionary history and natural instincts. 

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of canine sleep, exploring the importance of darkness in promoting better sleep for dogs.

Understanding Canine Sleep Patterns

To understand if dogs sleep better in the dark, it is crucial to comprehend their natural sleep patterns. Dogs are known as polyphasic sleepers, which means they have multiple sleep cycles throughout a 24-hour period. 

On average, adult dogs sleep for about 12 to 14 hours a day, while puppies and older dogs tend to sleep even longer. 

However, unlike humans, dogs do not have a distinct separation between deep sleep (REM sleep) and light sleep (non-REM sleep). They can quickly transition between these sleep stages, making their sleep patterns unique.

The Importance of Darkness in Canine Sleep

While dogs do not necessarily require complete darkness to sleep, providing them with a dark sleeping environment can have several benefits. 

Darkness promotes the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle in both humans and dogs. Melatonin helps dogs relax and initiates the process of falling asleep. 

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In a darkened environment, dogs are less likely to be disturbed by external stimuli, such as light and noise, leading to improved sleep quality.

Natural Instincts and the Canine Sleep Environment

To better understand the relationship between darkness and canine sleep, it’s essential to consider dogs’ natural instincts. Dogs are descendants of wolves, who are primarily nocturnal animals. 

Wolves are adapted to sleeping in dimly lit or dark environments, making them more comfortable and conducive to rest. 

While domesticated dogs have adapted to diurnal (daytime) sleep patterns due to their association with humans, their preference for a darker sleeping environment may still persist.

The Role of Circadian Rhythms in Canine Sleep

Circadian rhythms play a significant role in regulating sleep patterns in dogs. These internal biological clocks synchronize with the natural light-dark cycles of the environment. 

Exposure to natural daylight helps dogs establish their circadian rhythms and maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle. In the absence of external cues like natural light, dogs may struggle to regulate their sleep patterns properly. 

Thus, providing darkness during the nighttime hours helps align their internal clocks, ensuring more restful sleep.

Tips for Creating a Dark Sleep Environment for Dogs

If you’re interested in optimizing your dog’s sleep environment, here are some helpful tips:

Use curtains or blinds: Covering windows with curtains or blinds can minimize the amount of light entering the room, ensuring a darker sleep environment for your furry friend.

Avoid nightlights: While nightlights can be useful for humans, they may disrupt your dog’s sleep. Consider keeping the sleeping area free from any unnecessary light sources.

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Optimize bedding: Providing your dog with a comfortable and cozy bed can contribute to better sleep. Choose a bed that allows them to stretch out and relax, promoting a sense of security.

Reduce noise: Apart from darkness, minimizing noise disturbances during sleep is equally important. Dogs have sensitive hearing, so consider using white noise machines or closing windows to muffle outside sounds.

Establish a bedtime routine: Dogs, like humans, benefit from routines. Establish a consistent bedtime routine that includes dimming lights and creating a calm atmosphere to help signal to your dog that it’s time for sleep.


While dogs have adapted to diurnal sleep patterns due to their domestication, providing a dark sleep environment can positively impact their sleep quality. 

Darkness promotes the production of melatonin, helps minimize disturbances, and aligns with dogs’ natural instincts and circadian rhythms. 

By creating a dark and peaceful sleeping environment, you can contribute to your furry friend’s overall well-being and ensure they enjoy restful nights, leading to a happy and healthy life.