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Want to sleep better?

Animals Dogs Cats
Having your pooch close by may help!

People often think having your furry friend in your bedroom can lead to disrupted or troubled sleep, but a US study from the Mayo Clinic has put this misnomer to bed proving that having a canine in your room could aid in an even better night’s sleep.

The five month long study included 40 healthy adults who did not suffer with any sleep issues that slept with a dog either in their bed or their bedroom. The human and canine participants wore motion trackers for seven nights of the study. The humans were also interviewed about the quality of sleep they had and where their dog slept.

Pet owners with dogs in their rooms maintained an 83% sleep efficiency (80% is considered satisfactory). 

While the study suggested having a dog in your room could be beneficial, those who allowed their dog to share a bed with them didn’t sleep quite so well – with participants getting around 80% sleep efficiency. Participants with dogs sleeping on their bed woke up more than those who only allow them into their bedroom.  Owners who let their dogs sleep in their bed had more inconsistent sleep, which can lead to feeling grumpy and tired the next day.

Having your pet in the bedroom can aid in the sleep of owners

The study’s lead author, Dr Lois Krahn explained that having a pet in the bedroom can be comforting and aid in the sleep of owners.

“To have a purring cat or a well-behaved dog nearby may be very relaxing and conducive to sleep… provided everyone sleeps well, it can be a benefit,” she said.

There are more than 4.8 million pet dogs in Australia and almost two thirds of Australian homes own a pet

Families are treating their dogs as part of the family, often allowing pets to sleep in their bedrooms.  Dr Krahn went on to explain the changes society has faced over the last few decades and why our furry friends have become more commonplace in the bedroom.

“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… Today, many pet owners are away from their pets for much of the day, so they want to maximise 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.”

While the research is helpful, it does have some limitations that need exploring; there was no control group, the participants were mostly healthy middle aged women and the sample size was small. Further studies would give a better idea of whether populations of different ages, gender and health would respond the same way. 

Other areas that would need to be considered would be the dog’s breed or size, which could affect the findings of the study and the efficiency of sleep participants have. Dr Krahn and her team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic are continuing their studies in hopes of reaching these answers.

So for those of us who have a pet nearby a night, you could be catching more ZZZs than your non-pet owning friends!

Holly Fenwick
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