Some dog owners are so close to their pets that they accompany them everywhere and even sleep with them. New research shows that it’s actually good for one’s health to have a pet sleep near you at night, just as long as you’re not sharing the same bed.
The Mayo Clinic study, called “The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment,” aimed to assess whether people who sleep with their canines in the same bed or bedroom had lower quality of sleep. Fourty dog owners without sleep disorders participated in the study. Their sleep was tracked over the course of five months. During seven nights, both humans and canines wore accelerometers.
Sleep medicine specialist Lois Krahn, M.D. from the Center for Sleep Medicine on Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus and an author of the study explained, “Most people assume having pets in the bedroom is a disruption. We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets.”
What was key, however, is whether the dog was sleeping on the bed or just in the same room as their owner. Individuals who snuggled up to their pets under the covers had a lower quality of sleep compared with those whose pups were relegated to sleeping quarters elsewhere in the room.
The study had its limitations. It included a small sample size, and none of the canines were under six months old. It’s likely that people with fidgety puppies in their bedrooms are less likely to have a good night’s sleep regardless of whether the animal is on the bed or on the floor.
“The relationship between people and their pets has changed over time, which is likely why many people, in fact, do sleep with their pets in the bedroom,” says Dr. Krahn. “Today, many pet owners are away from their pets for much of the day, so they want to maximize their time with them when they are home. Having them in the bedroom at night is an easy way to do that. And, now, pet owners can find comfort knowing it won’t negatively impact their sleep.”
A 2015 study conducted by the Mayo Clinic at the Center for Sleep Medicine followed the sleep habits of 150 participants. More than 50 percent let their pets stay in their bedroom at night, and they claimed the animals disrupted their sleep.