By Rayna de Wit
By those with an everlasting busy schedule, sleeping hours are often considered sacred. However, sleep does not come easy for all. With many people suffering from insomnia or sleep deprivation, an easy solution for better sleep would be more than welcome. Could all these sleepless nights be solved by Man’s best friend?
Investigators of the Mayo Clinic wanted to objectively assess whether having a dog in your bed(room) improves your sleep. At enrollment, data of both dog (breed, weight, age, sleeping location) and their healthy adult owners (weight, age, size of the bed, gender, bed partner) were obtained. Participants had to collect data for 7 days in a sleep diary about bedtimes, sleep aids, nightly dog location and quality of sleep and wear an activity monitor. Dogs were provided with a FitBark activity monitor that registers rest, activity and play using a unique algorithm validated for dogs.
This study suggests that the common idea, that the mere presence of a dog in the bedroom could disrupt sleep, might not be true. But sharing the bed itself is better kept for a human bedmate. Of course, that’s only possible if you can resist those cute dog eyes.
Still, there are some points that must be considered regarding this study. This research was performed without a control group or information about the sleeping habits of participants before they had their dog (in the bedroom). Moreover, only 40 people had to collect data for 7 days, which did not necessarily have to be consecutive. This could result in a bad representation of their sleep efficiency. Also, several confounding factors that are hard to correct could influence the outcome of this study.
However, the effects of dogs in the bed(room) on human sleep was not previously researched, according to the investigators of the Mayo Clinic. Therefore, this study might supply a valuable addition to the common knowledge the next time you are debating with your partner, mother or best friend about having your furry friend in the bedroom with you. Those with bigger sleeping issues might still be better off consulting a less furry specialist.
Patel, S. I., et al. “The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings 92(9): 1368-1372.
Ohayon, M.M. “Epidemiology of insomnia: what we know and what we still need to learn.” Sleep Medicine Reviews 6, 97-111 (2002).