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Surprising Science

Sleeping With Your Dog May Help You Get a Better Night’s Rest

A new study from the Mayo Clinic says that letting dogs in the bedroom may not disrupt sleep quality.
'Flag', a Jack Russell terrier sleeps in bed in its hotel room at Actuel Dogs on April 19, 2011 in Vincennes, France.

If you have a dog, like one of America’s 43 million dog-owning households, you probably ran into the dilemma of whether to let man’s best friend sleep in your room or even in your bed. You might be worried that your canine buddy won’t let you get any quality sleep. Thankfully, a new study from the Mayo Clinic puts this question to rest – it’s ok to let the dog sleep in the bedroom but keep it out of your bed. 

The study authored by Lois Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus, looked at the sleep of 40 healthy adults and their dogs over five months. For one week, the researchers had participants and their dogs wear activity trackers to track their sleeping patterns. 

“Most people assume having pets in the bedroom is a disruption,” says Dr. Krahn. “We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets.”

No matter what dog it may be, the study found, some people’s sleep may actually be helped by having their dog sleeping in their bedroom. This doesn’t work, however, if you let the dog climb into your bed – adults who slept next to their canine companions were found to have worse sleep quality. A dog should have its own bed.

“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,” explains 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.”

As the study was of a relatively small size, with none of the dogs being under 6 months old, you should consider carefully if you want to let your new and very excitable puppy into your bedroom. You’d be unlikely to get much good sleep that way.

Still, the dog lovers might find the the study’s conclusion that “a dog’s presence in the bedroom may not be disruptive to human sleep, as was previously suspected” quite comforting.

You can read the study titled “The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment” here.


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