A Study Finds That New Puppy Owners Lose Just As Much Sleep As Newborn Parents

published Oct 28, 2021
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Credit: Time4Sleep

If you’ve recently brought a puppy into your home, you’re likely well aware of how much work those adorable little beings actually are. From all the things you need to buy and the training tools you need to master, one thing people don’t really mention is how much sleep you’ll lose — particularly in the early weeks and months with your new furry friend at home.

Time4Sleep, a UK-based supplier of beds and mattresses, released a study that found new puppy owners lose, on average, the same amount of sleep as parents to newborn babies. While you might not be dealing with bottle warming, diaper changing, and bleary-eyed lullabies, those frequent bathroom trips with a new pup are keeping new “pawrents” from getting some solid shut-eye.

The bed specialists at Time4Sleep sought to determine exactly how bringing home a new pooch can impact your sleep schedule, enlisting the help of two pet parents, Jess and Marco, who tracked their sleep for two weeks after welcoming home eight-week-old labrador puppy, Vada.

Over the course of the two weeks, Jess woke up a total of 26 times, waking up an average of two times each night. That means she was awake for a total of nearly eight hours over the course of the two-week study. Her husband Marco woke up 35 times in the first two weeks after welcoming Vada home — he woke up 2.5 times a night on average, for a grand total of nearly nine and a half hours of lost sleep during the study.

Credit: Time4Sleep

The couple reported that they were able to catch up on sleep during the day thanks to flexible work schedules, with Jess sharing, “Sleeping overnight with Vada was initially quite tough, and if it wasn’t for working from home and flexible work schedules, I think we would have really struggled with fatigue during the day.”

Of course, life with a human baby is no picnic either, as another case study parent Becky can confirm. Over the course of two weeks, Becky’s little one managed to eke out over nine hours of sleep on average per night, but he experienced waking periods ranging from one minute to over four hours.

The baby woke up a total of 35 times, with an average of 2.5 times a night — that means Becky was awake for 2 hours and 45 minutes a night on average to soothe her newborn, which makes sense given that puppy bathroom trips are typically quicker and easier than nursing a baby back to sleep.

Credit: Time4Sleep

Becky noted that she was “pretty lucky” to have such a solid sleeper so early on, sharing some sage advice for fellow new parents in the thick of it. “We did a lot of research before he was born and read a lot about sleep routines. We found being able to nap during the day, whilst he was napping, really helped us too; even if it was just for 30 minutes or so.”

Along with the sleep experiment, the pros at Time4Sleep surveyed 1,000 respondents, all of whom are either parents or dog owners. The survey found that during the first two weeks of bringing a new pup home, 35 percent of “pawrents” reported that they lost at least 3-6 hours of sleep each night, compared to 46 percent of new parents, with an average of three hours lost a night among both.

Generally, once puppies get a bit older, they will naturally sleep longer hours in the night and require fewer bathroom breaks, explained Steven Havers, a dog behaviorist at Havers Dog Behaviour. “In many ways, puppies are like children, they like a nice, quiet and relaxing approach to bedtime. A warm bed and cozy blankets are great soothers to aid a good night’s sleep, but be sure to avoid overstimulation before sleep time. This means avoiding play with your puppy in the hour before bedtime and ensuring that they have been to the toilet.”

With that, Havers warns that new pet parents should be prepared to experience a few weeks of sleep loss. “If your puppy goes to bed at 10 p.m., expect an alarm call around 4 a.m. at the latest.” And like everything else, know that the tough periods will pass and you will get a good night’s sleep again soon.