Can Sleeping with Your Dog Improve Your Shut-Eye?

| WRITTEN BY: Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

With busy schedules and a lot of screen time, it can be difficult to get good quality sleep. What if your dog could help you sleep better? Read on for some recent research about how dogs can impact your sleep.

What’s better than a restful night’s sleep? With a newborn at home, personally I’d say not much. It’s a rare and precious commodity these days!

When I get a good night’s rest, I’m more confident and productive the next day. And I’m not alone when feeling this way; in fact, science has shown that adequate sleep is important for our mental and physical health. While we may “feel” fine after a shortened night’s rest, some symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation include mood changes, clumsiness, difficulty concentrating, and weight loss/weight gain.

Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Night

To combat this, the National Sleep Foundation recommends aiming for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health and wellbeing, but many things can stand in the way of that goal — like a crying hungry baby at 3am, perhaps?! But if you don’t have the sleep woes of a newborn, do you have a dog?

Of the more than 40 million American households that have dogs, more than half of them consider their canine companions to be family, according the American Veterinary Association. Pablo, our labradoodle (pictured above), is certainly my “first born” — I wouldn’t think of sending out a holiday card that didn’t include him!

Can Dogs Help You Sleep Better?

So how might your furry family member affect your sleep?

A new Mayo Clinic study may set many tails wagging. Researchers found major benefits for allowing your canine companion to sleep in your room – mainly adding to a sense of comfort and security. However, participants’ sleep efficiency was lower if the dog was on the bed instead of simply sleeping in the room.

In the study, researchers looked at the sleep of 40 healthy adults without sleep disorders and their dogs over a five-month period. They found that sleeping in the same room with dogs helps some people sleep better — no matter if they’re cuddling with a Chihuahua or snoozing with a German Shepard. However, adults who snuggled up to their pups in bed compromised their sleep quality.

Based on this study, here are the pros and cons of having your dog sleep with you:

  • Pro: When our pets sleep with us, we relish in their comfort and closeness throughout the night. For those of us who are away from home all day, there is no greater joy to arrive back after work and be greeted (or attacked) by your furry friend. After being gone all day, it feels relaxing to spend time with your pet and sleeping in the same area is a natural extension of those cozy feelings.
  • Con: Let’s get real — pets move around a lot. Have you ever experienced trying to settle in for the night with your dog only to have it turn around 50 different times and sniff every possible bed fiber? Due to their subtle (or not so subtle) movements, deep breathing, and bed-hogging tendencies, your overall sleep quality may suffer and leave you more exhausted in the morning.

So, what’s the solution? For achieving an optimal night’s rest, get a dog bed and place it next to your own bed — you will still get the wellbeing benefit of being in the same room as your dog but with sounder shut-eye.

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