Sleeping with your pets is a controversial topic with plenty of scientific evidence behind it. Some studies say it interferes with your sleep, others say it increases the bacteria content and is therefore, a risk to your health. Despite the evidence, whether you decide to cuddle up with your dog or cat at night in bed is purely a personal choice.
I, for one, wholeheartedly believe that pets make good bedfellows, and researchers at Canisius College and the University of Florida agree with me.
In a recent survey to investigate relationships between pet ownership and human sleep, 962 adult American women were assessed for sleep quality based on three factors:
- Number of pets in the bed
- Whether pets were dogs or cats
- If the bed was also shared with another human
The findings were based on the participants’ perceived quality of sleep, so were entirely subjective. Nevertheless, the majority ruled that dogs make better bedmates than humans or cats, noting fewer disruptions to their sleep. The results also showed in favour of dogs’ snuggability, rating them higher than humans or cats in feelings of comfort and security.
The researchers reasoned that cats tend to be more restless in the wee hours of the night when their humans are sleeping. If they’re wide awake and full of action, then their humans should be too, and this can be very disruptive to your sleep.
Dogs on the other hand, are more in tune with our natural sleep-wake cycle. By nightfall, they’re out for the count and want nothing more than to sleep and snuggle. Depending on the habits of your dog will affect how many times they wake you up during the night. For instance, my dog likes to snuggle under the covers but as soon as she gets too hot, she’s wriggling her way out for some cooler air. When she cools down, she wants back under the covers. This happens once or twice a night, but I put up with it because when we snuggle, she’s the Morpheus to my dreams!
Another interesting finding of the survey was that cat owners tend to go to bed later than dog owners. This suggests they’re not getting as much sleep as their doggie counterparts. Dog owners are more likely to go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up earlier (because our dogs need to relieve themselves!)
So the proverb is true. Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise. The majority of women in this survey agree, snuggling with your dog at night can improve the quality of your sleep. So sweet dreams to the both of you!
by Natalie Secretan
Christy L. Hoffman, Kaylee Stutz & Terrie Vasilopoulos (2018) An Examination of Adult Women’s Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing, Anthrozoös, 31:6, 711-725, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2018.1529354