Having your pet by your side when it’s time to hit the hay is a controversial decision. For some pet owners, there’s nothing better than a cuddle with their furry friend. For others, the bedroom is a strictly out of bounds no-pet zone. But is there science behind the argument for sleeping with your dog? Apparently, it can improve your slumber. Here’s why.
A study by the Mayo Clinic measured the effect of dogs on human sleep in the home. There were 40 participants, all healthy adults with dogs over the age of 6 months. The results showed that having a dog in the room benefited the sleep of the participants who maintained 83% sleep efficiency. However, participants who allowed their dog to sleep on the bed had a slightly lower sleep efficiency of 80%.
When it comes to sleep efficiency, 80% is considered satisfactory, so even the participants with dogs on the bed had a pretty good sleep. If you want to catch those extra zzz’s though, get your pooch their own bed to snooze on!
Is it unhealthy?
There are arguments for and against the hygiene of sharing a bed with your pet.
Pet MD argues that ‘there is scant evidence that healthy, well cared for pets are detrimental to human health under these circumstances’ and that ‘human family members are much more likely to transmit diseases to each other during bed-sharing than our pets are’. However, they do acknowledge that allowing your pet to lick you can transfer nasty infections, so leave the goodnight kisses out of your bedtime routine.
All of this only makes sense if you have a clean and healthy pet. A study by pet insurer Animal Friends revealed that 43.6% of Brits share a bed with their dog or cat yet 30.5% never wash their pet. Additionally, 30.4% of Brits wash their dog or cat bed less than the recommended amount which is once a week, or as often as you clean your own.
If you imagine sharing your bed with your partner after they hadn’t washed for weeks, we bet you’d think twice! Keeping your pet and their bedding clean should cut the risk of transferring any illnesses and will keep your bedroom smelling fresh.
Read more: Why Do Some Dogs Snore So Badly?
Who’s a good boy?
Dogs are pack animals who look up to a leader. If you have a well-trained pooch who never usually sleeps on the bed, they’ll see you as the pack leader. Therefore, they obey your commands and behave well.
So, if you invite them onto your bed, it sends out mixed signals. Putting you on an equal playing field during sleep undermines your pack leader status which, according to Pet Owners Association, could ‘affect discipline in other areas such as training and obedience’.
Though it might be tempting to let your dog sleep on the bed on certain occasions such as Bonfire Night, it can confuse your furry friend. During this time, dogs like to feel comforted and sheltered, so try setting up a ‘safe space’ underneath or next to your bed. Place down items of your clothing so they can feel reassured by your scent. Finally, close the curtains to block out the flashing lights and try leaving the TV or radio on low to block out some of the banging sounds.
So, whether your fluffy companion sleeps on or off the bed, the most important thing is to get a good night’s sleep. Keep doing whatever works for you!