Whether they’re at the other end of a leash or sitting beside you on the couch, man’s best friend undoubtedly provides stellar companionship. But should the family pet be given the green light to snooze alongside its owner?
The question of whether or not to allow pets in the bed has long been a topic of debate among pet owners. Now, researchers from the Mayo Clinic say they’ve got an answer.
Sleeping with your pet in the same bedroom is fine, but letting your pooch curl up in the same bed as you may affect your sleep quality, according to a new study.
Helps some adults sleep better
The study evaluated the sleep of 40 healthy adults without sleeping disorders and their dogs. Activity trackers were used to monitor the sleeping habits of both the participant and the dog for seven consecutive nights.
The verdict: the presence of dog actually helped some people sleep better. However, this benefit was only seen when pets were simply in the bedroom, not on the owner’s bed. Adults who allowed their pups to hop up on the bed at night sacrificed quality sleep.
“Humans with a single dog in their bedroom maintained good sleep efficiency; however, the dog’s position on/off the bed made a difference,” the researchers concluded.
Lower sleep efficiency
While having a dog in the bedroom often translated to a more blissful night’s sleep, participants’ sleep quality took a hit when they allowed their dog on the bed or under the covers.
Still, a dog’s presence in the bedroom “may not be disruptive to human sleep, as was previously suspected,” the study's authors said.
“We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets," said lead author Lois Krahn from Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus.
Dr. Krahn noted that “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.”
In the bedroom, not on the bed
Today, almost all pet owners (95 percent) consider their pets to be members of the family. But since most people can’t stay home with their furry companion all day, many pet owners might want to make up for lost quality time by allowing their pet to sleep nearby.
Dr. Krahn acknowledged this, noting that “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,” she said. “And, now, pet owners can find comfort knowing it won't negatively impact their sleep.”
The study, titled "The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment," has been published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.