Do Dogs Know When Humans Are Sleeping?

As devoted dog parents, we are preoccupied with every activity our dogs do – from sleeping and eating to playing and relaxing. Considering how keenly we observe their movements and habits, it is only natural to wonder whether dogs understand the basic concepts of our habits. Like, whether dogs know if we are sleeping or awake.

As surprising as it may sound, dogs know when their human family members are sleeping. Dogs use their basic senses (sight, touch, sound, and smell) to determine whether they are sleeping or not. How much they understand the concept of sleeping is not specified, but they can definitely tell when someone is asleep or awake.

This article will explain in detail how each sense helps dogs know when humans are sleeping. We will also review the benefits of sleeping with your dog and give you some helpful safety tips for sharing the bed with your pouch.

How do dogs know when humans are sleeping?

As mentioned, dogs rely on their basic senses to determine whether we are sleeping or not. Plus, they have strong observational skills and are very intuitive.


This may seem like stating the obvious, but if you and your dog share the bed or sleep in different beds but in the same room, your dog can see up close whether you are sleeping or not.

Dogs can pick up on small cues indicating that you are about to wake up. The most common signals include fluttering of the eyelids, more frequent chest and stomach movements due to increased breathing rate, and more intense limb movement and rolling in the bed.


Touch is another sense that helps your dog decide if you are sleeping. Namely, if your dog sleeps next to you, it will be able to feel the increased tension your body expresses when transitioning from sleep to a more alert state. Dogs can also feel the more frequent body movements and shifting that occurs before waking up.

In fact, if your dog sleeps close to you or on top of you, it might be because it wants to be alerted when you wake up so it can wake up too.


Dogs have a strong hearing sense and can pick up on sounds that signal waking up even if you are not sleeping in the same room. You might not be aware of the rustling sound your sheets make when you are rolling over in the bed, but your dog can hear them very well.

What is more, if you are using an alarm, your dog will eventually start associating the alarm sound with waking up and coming out of bed. Over time, your dog may intuitively know it is time for waking up even before the alarm goes off.


It is impossible to talk about your dog’s superior senses without mentioning the most powerful one – its smelling sense. Soon before waking up, our bodies release higher amounts of the adrenal gland hormone named cortisol.

To us, cortisol is an odor-free hormone, but it has a distinctive and well-recognizable scent for our dogs. Your dog does not understand hormones, but it will start associating the smell of cortisone with waking up over time.

Some dogs learn to make the connection more quickly than others. At first, your dog might be sniffing you more intensely, but once it familiarizes itself with your body’s smells and scents, it will not even have to get up of its bed – just raising the head and taking a sniff will be enough to determine it is waking time for you. 

Do dogs like sleeping with their owners?

Most dogs love sleeping with their owners. Some like to sleep together. They enjoy their humans’ presence and some because they are overly protective and prefer keeping a close eye on their favorite persons. Finally, some dogs choose to sleep with their owners because of practical reasons – human beds and sheets are extremely cozy and comfortable.

However, some dogs, depending on the circumstances, may prefer to sleep alone. The most common reasons why your dog might prefer sleeping alone include:

  • Your bed is too warm or
  • There is not enough space in your bed
  • The bed is positioned in a place your dog does not consider safe
  • Your dog is a light sleeper, and your rolling is bothersome.

Do people like sleeping with their dogs?

While some dog parents enjoy sleeping with their dogs, others prefer sleeping in separate beds or even rooms.

Regardless of the personal choices and tendencies, it is non-disputably established that sharing the bed with a canine companion has its perks. Sleeping with your dog has the following benefits:

  • Promotes theta brainwaves
  • Reduces depression, the severity of PTSD symptoms, and sense of loneliness
  • It gives an increased sense of security
  • Reduces stress and eases anxiety-induced insomnia
  • Decreases the likelihood of having nightmares
  • Improves the overall sleep quality
  • Regulates the blood pressure and promotes a healthy heart
  • Increases the mutual bond and has a positive impact on socialization.

According to a study from 2015, “Are pets in the bedroom a problem?” 56% of dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in the bedroom, and 41% declared they find sharing the bed to be unobtrusive and beneficial. 

The same study showed that people who sleep with their dogs have a sleeping efficiency score of 81 – the perfect sleeping efficiency score is 100. Based on this finding, if you keep waking up tired, getting a dog can prove quite beneficial for your overall health. 

Is it safe to share the bed with your dog?

If you and your dog like sleeping together, sharing the bed can be a wonderful experience. Plus, as long as you take care of your dog’s hygiene and have it regularly de-wormed, sharing the bed is objectively safe.

However, there are certain situations in which it is better to sleep in separate beds or even rooms. Simply put, you should not allow your dog in your bed if:

  • Your dog is not fully housetrained and not very picky when it comes to choosing its toilet area
  • You have asthma or allergy that becomes aggravated when exposed to dog hair and dander
  • You are a light sleeper and cannot get a good night’s rest if your dog keeps waking you up

In these cases, instead of feeling guilty for not sharing the bed, go dog bed shopping and get your dog a nice bed. And to atone for not sharing the bed, get your dog the best bed available on the pet market – something with human-grade memory foam and well-padded, extra comfortable bolsters.

Why is my dog waking me up?

From barking and whining through breathing at your face and staring at you to licking and sniffling – dogs are very creative in their waking up methods.

Considering your dog knows you are sleeping, if it is doing some of these activities, it is because it has a good reason. These are the most common reasons why your dog might be waking you up:

  • It is feeling lonely or bored
  • It needs to be taken out on a potty break
  • It senses a danger
  • It is not feeling good.

If you give your dog treats or play with it when it wakes you up to make a distraction and then continue with your sleep, you are positively reinforcing the habit. Before you know it, you will have a dog that wakes up whenever in the mood for tasty treats or interactive games.


Dogs are fascinating creatures and are often more aware of their surroundings and situations than we tend to assume. Dogs have keen senses – much sharper than ours. Those senses help dogs determine whether humans are sleeping.

Dogs know very well when humans are sleeping, which means if your dog keeps waking you up, it is not because it does not know what you are doing. If waking you up becomes a habit, you need to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s behavior.

Finally, as long as both you and your dog enjoy sharing the bed, there are no major safety concerns not to do so. After all, what is better than being waked up with a wet kiss from your favorite pouch?


Do dogs protect you when you sleep?

Yes, dogs are always protective of their owners. Dogs understand that sleeping is a vulnerable state and are particularly protective of their owners while they are sleeping. Offering protection is one of the reasons dogs like sharing the bed with their humans.

Do dogs like to be hugged while sleeping?

The exact answer depends on the dog – some enjoy being hugged while sleeping while others have a higher level of respect for their personal space and like sharing the bed with you but do not appreciate hugging. It is also worth mentioning that even the dogs that like being hugged while sleeping do not enjoy the bear-type hugs.

How do dogs decide who to sleep with?

Although dogs love all family members, they always have one favorite person with whom they form a closer bond. Given the opportunity to choose, most dogs will decide to sleep with their favorite person (usually the one that takes them for walks and fills their food bowls).

Do dogs need their own beds?

Yes, even if your dog is frequently sleeping with you on your bedroom couch, it still needs its own personal bed. Beds have several benefits for dogs, including a sense of security and ownership.