Have you ever wondered if your pet dreams? What do those spasms or movements mean while they sleep? Are they aware that they dream? In today’s post, we’ll delve into their rest.
The sleep cycle
On a structural level, our pets’ brains are very similar to ours so, during sleep, their brain wave patterns are similar to ours going through the same stages.
One of the most important phases of sleep is the so-called REM phase. This is characterized by the presence of high brain activity, which can be visible by rapid and constant eye movements. This period accounts for 25% of the sleep cycle and occurs between 70 and 90 minutes after falling asleep.
However, animals differ from us in something called «wakefulness». Our pets are constantly waking up during their rest so they alternate sleep and wakefulness. This is due to their hunting nature whereby they are always alert even when their eyes are closed or even asleep. This is easy to see if we observe their ears, as they will be on the move at the slightest noise.
Knowing all this, it is very likely that if you look at your pet about 20 minutes after he has fallen asleep, you will be able to witness his first sleep: his breathing will be more irregular, he will have muscle spasms from time to time and even, if you were to lift his eyelid you could check the movement in his eyes characteristic of this phase (you don’t need to do it, you might wake him up).
What do they dream?
The most common doubts are what they dream about and whether they are aware that they do so.
Several studies have shown that, just like us, the furry ones create their own reality when they dream, reinforcing knowledge learned during the day. That is why, for example, puppies tend to dream more than adults, since they are in a phase of greater learning and stimulation in which they have to assimilate much more new information. Although we cannot know what exactly they dream about, experts assure that they most probably dream about daily activities such as the day’s walk, games, their food and, most likely, about their human. Regarding the spasms, dogs usually have them all over their bodies while cats usually have them in their whiskers, claws and tail.
Also, in the case of cats, many of their dreams are believed to show predatory behaviors, in which they pose how to get food because of their hunting background.
On the question of whether they are aware that they dream, the answer is more complicated. Humans are not aware that we are dreaming at the moment but once we become desperate we do have the ability to remember our dreams, can pets remember them too? To date, we have no clear certainty that they can do so.
The importance of proper rest
But our pets can not only dream like us, they can also have nightmares. Therefore, it is very important that they live in a comfortable environment, where they feel at ease and calm to ensure a proper quality of sleep.
To ensure a good rest, it is necessary that they have a comfortable place to sleep, that they are physically and mentally active during the day and above all, that they can rest without us constantly waking them up. Like us, they can suffer from insomnia or sleeping problems due to stress, anxiety, illness or simply because of bad temperature, drafts, noise, light…
If you think your pet is not sleeping well, it may be for any of these reasons, so we recommend that you go to your veterinarian to ensure their well-being and rest!