Sleepwalking is a medical condition that causes people to get up and move around while they’re sleeping. But can dogs sleepwalk?
The National Sleep Foundation defines sleepwalking as, “a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while asleep.”
It typically occurs when a person is in a stage of deep sleep referred to as slow wave sleep and during the first third of the night. And it can last anywhere from a minute to half an hour.
Sleepwalking usually occurs with children, although it is seen less frequently in adults. And it’s believed to happen in anywhere between 1-15% of people.
While a person’s eyes are open when they sleepwalk, they have a distant look in their eyes and won’t typically respond to another person.
If they do respond, for instance if you’re trying to talk to them, they’ll be very slow to answer. And when they wake up, they normally won’t remember anything that occurred.
CAN DOGS DREAM?
If we want to say that dogs sleepwalk, then it would hold that they would have to dream. Otherwise what would they be acting out in their sleep, if not a dream?
Since dogs can’t talk to us, it’s hard to say with certainty if dogs dream. It’s even more difficult to say for sure if they physically move around and sleepwalk as a result of those dreams.
Scientists have measured brain activity in dogs when they sleep, and the results indicate that dogs show markers of activity that match human brain activity in the dream state.
Interestingly, research has captured some very persuasive data revealing that rats dream.
CAN DOGS SLEEPWALK?
There are a number of videos capturing what certainly looks like sleepwalking dogs.
Bizkit the Sleepwalking Dog courtesy of MarinaHD2001 on YouTube
However, the medical community isn’t sure what they think. Admittedly, the research on animal sleep disorders is scant at best.
It does appear that dogs can experience many of the same sleep issues we humans do, to include sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, cataplexy, and wetting the bed.
Obviously some of these can be dangerous. And some vets are of the opinion that seizures could be a root cause for some behaviors that look like sleeping disorders.
So if you suspect your pet may be experiencing a sleep disorder, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet and have them examined.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT MY DOG SLEEPWALKING?
1. Make sure your pet sleeps in a safe location. You want to make sure he’s not going to hurt himself on a piece of furniture or fall down the stairs.
2. Examine the food your dog is eating. Nutritional shortfalls can interfere with proper sleep. Partner with your vet to see if there is an appropriate supplement you can give your dog to aid in his sleep.
3. Make sure your dog has the chance to exercise daily. Just like with humans, exercise can promote sound sleep.
4. Don’t try to solve the issue on your own. Work with your vet to see what courses of action are available.