Do you shake your head in disbelief at dog owners who have a “no dogs in bed” policy at home? Are you more inclined to share the bed with your pooch partner than your human companion? If you answered yes, then you are not alone in this sentiment, and you may be getting better sleep for it.
Scientists from the Department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation at Canislus College have found that women have better sleep quality with their pets beside them.
They found that among 962 female respondents in the U.S., 55 percent of them shared their beds with at least one dog. In addition, 31 percent shared their beds with at least one cat. Only 57 percent reported sharing a bed with human significant others. While human bed partners still outrank both feline and canine pets individually, the ratio shows that dog bed partners are not far behind.
Why More Women Get Better Sleep With Their Dogs
The female respondents shared that they had better and more restful sleep when they shared their beds with their dogs than the respondents who shared their beds with human partners. They also claimed that the dogs were less likely to disturb them and made them feel more comfortable and secure in their own beds. Those feelings may help put women at ease and help them sleep more deeply.
However, if you are a cat person, then your nighttime experience may not be as comfortable as the deep slumber of your canine-loving counterparts. The women respondents who had a cat experienced the same disrupted quality of sleep as with a human bed partner. While dogs were more likely to stay asleep during the night, the cats were more active and got out of bed many times.
Also, dog owners seem to have an improved circadian rhythm, or internal body clock. They have to get up at similar times every morning to let their dogs out and feed them, and dogs tend to keep to a consistent schedule. Having a regular sleep and wake routine can improve sleep quality.
Better Sleep Quality, Not Quantity?
When it comes to sleep quantity, however, there is a second study that provides a different context. The study of 40 adults showed that having a dog in the bedroom improved sleep quality. Many of the respondents rated sleep efficiency as 83 percent, a high percentile.
However, adults, both men and women, who had dogs beside them in the bed–not just in the same room–woke up slightly more during the night than those whose dogs slept elsewhere in the same room, though not by much. Even more baffling is that those with human bed companions experienced less sleep disturbance.
“Presumably, humans accommodate the needs of their bed partner in an effort to promote sleep in a manner that even the most well-trained dog does not,” said Dr. Lois Krahn, one of the authors of the second study.
Even with somewhat contradictory findings, it seems that comfort, security, and a routine are the big takeaways from having a dog bedfellow. This is even more pronounced for individuals who may require service dogs. Their presence can ease the tendencies for bad dreams and promote fruitful rest.
What are your thoughts on these new findings? Sound off in the comments below!