For most dog lovers, sleeping in bed with your dog seems like a natural thing to do. In fact, 79% of dog owners do just that! Nothing feels better than climbing into bed and having a warm fuzzy friend curled up with you to provide love, comfort, and warmth while you drift off to sleep. Recent studies, however, show that leaving Fido on the floor may be better for your sleep.
There are many reasons why people choose to sleep beside their best furry friend. For one, dogs are amazing heat producers. “One of the most common [reasons] being that dogs are warm—it feels good to snuggle up to a dog on a cold night. In fact, dogs have a body temperature three to six degrees higher than our own, making them efficient bed warmers. The term “three dog night” even comes from the Canadian maritime provinces, where it was standard practice to take your dog (or dogs) to bed with you on a cold night to help keep you warm” (Coren, 2017).
Dogs can also alter the way we feel. Studies have long shown that interactions with dogs produce oxytocin in the brain, the chemical responsible for feelings of contentment and happiness. Sleeping next to your pet can help you feel safe and secure when you are otherwise vulnerable.
A recent study done by the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine is showing that rather than helping you sleep, having your pets in bed with you may be hindering your sleep. “In the study, 40 adults, mostly women with an average age of 44, and their dogs wore motion sensor devices for seven nights. Researchers found human “sleep efficiency” was better if the dog was in the room, but not on the bed” (Holohan, 2017). This study was done on persons who only owned one pet, we cannot imagine the change in “sleep efficiency” for a person with multiple pets!
Having your pet in bed with you may have other consequences as well. There is often conflict between partners regarding whether pets should be allowed on the bed at all. One humorous anecdote recounts Napoleon Bonaparte’s interaction with his new wife’s Pug;
“The fact that a human partner and a canine partner might not get along well in bed is something which could be confirmed by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte. When he married Josephine he learned that her Pug, Fortune, always slept with her. On their wedding night, Napoleon was surprised to find that Josephine insisted that the dog remain on the bed as usual. Later that evening, when the newlyweds were flagrante delicto, Fortune took offense at what was going on between his mistress and the general and demonstrated this by biting the French leader on his thigh. Napoleon was not amused and bore a scar and a grudge against the little Pug dog for the rest of his life” (Coren, 2017).
Ultimately, physician and veterinarians agree that, like most things, the decision is up to each individual. If you notice your dog is causing you some sleep disturbances, maybe it’s time for them to get a bed of their own. Otherwise, enjoying pets in your bed is not likely to cause significant health issues for either one of you.
Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., S. (2017). Should You Let Your Dog Sleep in Bed With You?. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201709/should-you-let-your-dog-sleep-in-bed-you [Accessed 28 Sep. 2017].
Holohan, M. (2017). Should you pets sleep in the bed with you? A new study’s surprising answers. [online] Today. Available at: https://www.today.com/health/should-your-pets-sleep-bed-you-new-studys-surprising-answers-t61266 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2017].
Khully, VMD, P. (2017). Is it Safe to Sleep with Your Pet?. [online] PetMD. Available at: http://Is it Safe to Sleep with Your Pet? [Accessed 28 Sep. 2017].