Sleeping With Dogs Is Bad For Your Sleep And Health

Terms: In the News

25, 2017 10:00 AM By Lizette


Many dog owners
remain split on this decision: whether or not to allow their wet-nosed
pal to sleep in the bedroom. For some, sleeping with Fido is comforting
and soothing, while for others, the priority is on keeping the bedroom free of
pet hair–and, therefore, Fido. A recent study published
in Mayo Clinic Proceedings has
found a dog’s sleep position (whether on the bed or on the bedroom floor), can
affect an owner’s sleep quality and health.


The researchers, a team of
pulmonologists, statisticians and psychologists from the Mayo
Clinic, observed 40 healthy adults without sleep disorders, who all slept
with dogs either on the bed or somewhere else in the bedroom. The participants
were evaluated for a total of five months, but for seven nights, they and
their dogs wore activity trackers to monitor their sleeping habits.

Although sleeping with dogs led to
waking up throughout the night, sleeping with a human partner did not. In fact,
sleeping with a human partner led to better sleep efficiency than sleeping

researchers first looked at sleep efficiency, the percentage of time in bed
actually spent sleeping. Here, the difference between bed-sharers and
bedroom-sharers wasn’t obvious. People with dogs in their rooms, but
not in their beds, had an 83-percent sleep efficiency level, and people
with dogs in their beds had an average sleep efficiency rate of 80 percent.
Neither of these rates is alarming: 80 percent is considered satisfactory
sleep efficiency; 85 and 89 percent is
normal; and above 90 percent is very efficient sleeping.

But a
deeper probe revealed some problems with human-dog co-sleeping. This
arrangement led owners to wake up more throughout the night compared to
their counterparts. Previous research has found an interrupted night
of sleep is similar to only having four hours of consistent sleep. Fragmented
sleep can have negative effects on mood, attention span, and cognitive ability.

Krahn, study author and a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep
Medicine on Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus, and her colleagues stress that having
pets in the bedroom is not a disruption as long as they don’t sleep on the
bed. This provides solace for pet owners who partake in human-pet bed sharing
and “find comfort and a sense of security” from their presence, she
said, in a statement.

Krahn also acknowledges dog owners may
share a bed with their dogs as a means to spend time with them. “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,” she said.

The research does have some limitations.
There was no control group (sleepers without dogs in their bedrooms or their
beds); most participants were healthy, middle-aged women; and the sample size
was small. Because of these limiting factors, the results cannot be generalized
to other populations, and no insights can be gleaned about whether the
dog’s breed or size could have affected the findings. The study, say the
researchers, does warrant further investigation into the relationship
between a pet’s sleeping position and the pet owner’s sleep quality.

has previously shown some health risks attached to sleeping with your pet.
study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases found the young,
elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, including transplant
patients, people with diabetes, and those who are HIV-positive face a greater
risk of becoming ill after sharing a bed with a pet. Although
contracting a disease from a family pet is rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes
about 60 percent of all human pathogens can be transmitted by an animal.

Co-sleeping with pets could provide
benefits for some owners. But people vulnerable to health issues–or
light sleepers–could benefit from leaving man’s best friend outside the