Contrary to the accepted medical community opinion that dogs should not be allowed in an owner’s bedroom at night, new research has found that a dog’s presence in a bedroom does not disrupt the owner’s sleep. However, sleep was disrupted when a dog slept on the owner’s bed. Findings from the study were published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The limited research (Shepard and Krahn et. al) conducted on this topic has found that just over half of pet owners in the U.S. slept in the same room as their pet (primarily a dog or cat). The researchers of this study evaluated the sleep patterns of 40 humans and their dogs who occupied the same bedroom during sleep for 7 nights. Each participant—dog and human—wore an accelerometer that collected actigraphy data.
Their analysis found that the overall mean ± SD of sleep efficiency for the human participants was 81%±7% (>80% sleep efficiency is deemed to be satisfactory). When the analysis included only those pet-owners who let their dogs sleep on their beds, human sleep efficiency decreased to 80.1%±7.2%. Conversely sleep efficiency for the dogs who slept on beds increased from 83.3%±19.8% to 85.4%±12.1% (P=0.003).
Human sleep efficiency did not vary based on the size of the dog (P=0.93). Human wakefulness after sleep onset was reduced with the dog in the room but not on the bed (P=0.01) and sleep onset latency did not change whether the dog slept on the bed or was just in the bedroom (P>0.14).
The researchers noted, to their knowledge, that this study is the first to objectively evaluate the effects of dogs in the bedrooms of human sleep. They also highlighted some limitations to their findings, including the small sample size (40 dogs and 40 humans), the lack of control group, and the fact that participants were self-selected.
They concluded that, “From this study, it seems that humans with a single dog in their bedroom maintain satisfactory sleep efficiency.”
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