Many pet owners kick their dog out of bed at night because they think they will achieve a more restful night’s sleep without their canine companion by their side. If you’re one of these dog owners, you may want to rethink that decision. Recent research has found that having a dog in your bed may actually help some people sleep better.
Just so we’re clear, I’m a bit biased on this subject. We have two dogs and three cats. All five of these animals sleep in our bed at night. In fact, my husband and I had to upgrade to a king size bed a few years back in order to accommodate our furry children.
We both agree that we sleep better with our animals in bed with us, and now there’s research to back up our opinion. Maybe our friends and family will stop criticizing us now? Probably not, but it’s worth a shot!
The study was performed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine located in Arizona. It found that many people actually feel a sense of security when their dog is in bed with them, and – despite what sleep experts have stated for many years – having a dog in your bed is not disruptive to your sleep.
Dr. Lois Krahn is a sleep medicine specialist at the facility and also one of the authors of the study. She says that she isn’t sure if there is a hard and fast rule about the benefits of pets sleeping in bed with their owners and that her colleagues agree that there is a risk involved.
Approximately half of American households own pets, and this study found that about half of those pet parents allow their animals to either sleep in their bed or somewhere in their bedroom. 150 respondents were asked to fill out questionnaires about their relationship with their companion animals.
Details including the number and type of pets were recorded, as well as the family’s sleeping habits. During a follow-up interview respondents were asked where their pets slept, how they behaved throughout the night and whether the pet affected their owners’ sleep.
20 percent of the 1500 respondents reported that their sleep was interrupted because of their pet, and 41 percent felt that having their pet in their bedroom with them allowed them to sleep better. Some respondents noted that the body heat from their pet or physical contact was soothing and comforting. Krahn said that many people said having a pet in their bed made them feel cozy.
These findings do differ from the sleep recommendations of most experts in the field. Many experts recommend that their patients do not allow their pet to sleep in bed with them, and some don’t even recommend allowing the pet to sleep in the bedroom. Krahn believes that multiple pets increase the risk of poor sleep, and I would have to agree with that.
For me, it’s more of an emotional aid than a physical comfort to have our animals in bed with me. As do many pet parents, we have had many instances in the middle night when an animal in our home became sick or needed help. We’ve had animals that recovering from illnesses or medical procedures that needed to be monitored throughout the night.
Currently, we have a boxer who was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Although I know that 95 percent of the time our animals are fine at night, it soothes me to know that they are close to us just in case they need us in the middle of the night. If our boxer suddenly spiked a fever or her heart began to race, I would hear her panting and feel her moving around.
There are nights, especially on summer nights, when our pets would rather sleep on the cool tile floor in the kitchen or underneath the ceiling fans in the living room than sleep in our bed. I definitely wake up more throughout the night when our pets are not in bed with us. The anxiety and worry keeps me from getting a restful sleep.
Let’s do our own study. Do your pets sleep in bed with you? Do you find it comforting or is it more of a hassle? Do they keep you up at night? Leave a comment and let us know your canine companion’s sleeping arrangements and why it works for your family.