A lot of dog owners wonder about their pet’s sleep patterns, especially when they are away from home. They may find their dog prefers a specific bed or crate, a favorite blanket or cushion, or another area of the house to snooze. Many dog lovers also wonder whether their pet is a nocturnal animal or diurnal.
The answer to this question may be closer than you might think. Dogs are the closest living relative of wolves, and their domestication and cohabitation with humans has affected their physiology, including sleep patterns. Researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary wanted to see how comparing the sleeping habits of dogs and wolves might offer insight into these changes. To do this, they hand-raised wolves and carefully coaxed them into natural sleep. They then used non-invasive electrode measurements to monitor their brain activity as they slept.
As a result, researchers have for the first time measured what happens when wolves go to sleep and then wake up in their natural habitat. Their results have shed light on the effects of evolution, domestication and cohabitation with humans on wolf sleep physiology.
Wolves have four to 10 hours of sleep a day, and they go through stages like drowsiness, deep sleep and REM sleep. Their longest stage is REM sleep, and older wolves experience less deep sleep than younger ones.
Wolves are very social animals, and they stick together in their territories. They often share food and assist each other if members become weak or sick. They communicate with each other through touch and a thin bird-like call. If a wolf is caught in a snare, it is not uncommon for the rest of the pack to rescue it.