The results of a newly published study from the Mayo Clinic titled “The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment” may make you rethink your sleeping arrangements. Researchers studied the sleep patterns of 40 dog parents for one week using activity monitors. They concluded that while sharing your bedroom with a dog does not seem to negatively affect sleep, allowing them to snuggle in bed with you does.
The 40 participants in the study were mostly women with an average age of 44. Each had one dog and no history of sleep disorders. Both the humans and their dogs wore activity trackers for seven nights “to objectively assess whether a dog in the bedroom or bed disturbs sleep.”
Based on the data, the researchers concluded that sleep efficiency was higher and wakefulness was lower when the dog was in the room. However, this was not true for those who shared their actual bed with the dog. These participants suffered from lower sleep quality compared with those whose dogs slept on the floor or in pet beds.
Study author Dr. Lois Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, said:
“There are a couple of different things that happen. Very often people are awoken by their pet, so the pet is walking on them, moving around, wiggling in bed, or snoring. Dogs sometimes will be moving and acting out their dreams. There are some pets that get under the blankets, and that wakes a person up.”
The information collected from the dogs’ “FitBark” monitors showed that the quality of their sleep was not affected by where they slept.
42% of owners allow their pooches to sleep in bed with them and the topic has been a source of debate among pet lovers for years. Dr. W. Christopher Winter, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, feels that those who claim their dogs do not disrupt their rest simply do not realize how much better their sleep quality could be without them.
“I often say that we are very good at saying our sleep is better or our sleep is worse in some situations, but we’re not really good at saying our sleep is normal. Because, for some people, if you have been sleeping with a dog in your bed for 20 years, what is normal? You don’t even know anymore, to some extent.”
According to the study authors, theirs is the first research to objectively measure the effects of dogs on human sleep, but due to the small sample size and short duration of the study, they recommend further research. They hope to conduct further research to evaluate how other types of pets and multiple pets per human affect sleep.
Regardless of this study, we know that there are pets parents out there who won’t let anything stop them from snuggling their pups while they snooze! Are you one of them? Tell us in the comments below!