Article contributed by freelance writer and volunteer dog walker Lucy Wyndham
If you are a ‘dog parent’ who constantly brings your pooch around with you to picnics, adventures in the Great Outdoors and social gatherings, then you may be one of millions of people the world over who love nothing better than the comfort of sleeping near their dog. Some people are content to simply hear the gentle snoring of their pooch in the room; others enjoy the warmth and cuddliness of a pet on the shared bed. No research in the world would probably affect your decision to sleep near Fido, but in case your curiosity is piqued, we attempt to answer the following question: Do pets affect our quality of sleep?
What the Research Says
Studies carried out over more than a decade by researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that sleeping in the same bed as a cat or dog can actually have negative effects for the following reasons:
Pets can snore: This is especially true in the case of brachycephalic breeds such as English and French bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers. Cats aren’t immune to snoring,w either; Persians, Himalayans and other so-called ‘flat-faced’ felines, can whistle and puff with the best of them.
Pets tend to move during the night: One of the most common cases involves burrowing under the blanket, overheating, and burrowing back out. This process is repeated several times in the night, in an eternal chase for the perfect temperature.
Whimpering: Your dog may feel like going out, drinking water, or playing and if so, he will let you know it.
A Silver Lining for Canine Co-Sleeping
The good news for those who could not conceive of a night without Fido or Felix, is that more recent studies have shown that sleeping with our pet in the room (but not on the bed) actually improves our sleep quality. The reasons are probably the same as those you would instinctively give if asked:
Security: Having a pet close by somehow makes us feel safer. Dogs, especially, react quickly when they hear noises, so we know we can enjoy a deep sleep and leave Fido to do the guarding.
Warmth: In colder months, the warmth our pets bring is priceless.
Companionship: For many of us, pets are family. A pet is sometimes the most important source of regular unconditional love people receive. Thus, issues such as needing to change the bedsheets regularly or vacuuming more often than those who don’t have pets, seem like a very small price to pay for such big benefits.
To maximize the effects of sleeping by your pet, get them a nice warm bed they will be content to snuggle in. When you are out and about, you can even use a collapsible crate as a pet bed to keep them near, but not in your sleeping bag (unless, of course, it's three-dog-night cold). Whatever you do, don’t give up on the joy of a good night’s rest by the best friend man or woman could have.