06 Nov To Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?
It has been reported that a substantial number of people have their pets in the bedroom while sleeping [1, 2]. Current literature indicates that around 60% of pet owners slept with their pets in the bedroom. According to the American veterinary association, of this cohort, 20% describe pets as being disruptive to their sleep, 41% thought of pets as beneficial to sleep, and the remaining group was indifferent when it comes to sleep . There is a certain bias to this; people are likely to ignore possible negative effects in defence of a pet.
“Many people,” a sleep medicine specialist, Lois Krahn, states “find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets.” Dr Krahn is the lead on a Mayo Clinic team that, in September of 2017, aimed to objectively assess changes in sleep efficiency with a dog in the bedroom.
The study took a cohort of 40 people, each of whom had dogs of varying breeds and sizes. Sleep efficiency was 81% on average. Taking this finding in isolation, the presence of a dog in the bedroom does not disrupt sleep. This is considered to be a normal sleep efficiency. Additionally, the sleep efficiency was better if the dog was in the room, but not on the bed . Efficiency did not vary based on the size or breed of the dog.
The study has several limitations. There was no control group. This means that the findings of sleep efficiency can only be compared to external studies, with different cohorts, measurement techniques, and analysis algorithms. Therefore reliable conclusions are limited to those between patient groups; that in the interest of sleep efficiency, dogs should not sleep on the bed. Additionally, whilst actigraphy is widely accepted as a measurement of sleep efficiency, it is not entirely comparable to polysomnography. The study sample was small, and limited to Arizona. Therefore this relationship could not be extrapolated to other climates, or cultures. The study could obviously not control for dog behaviour.
Despite this, the study provides novel and objective data, and as of provides some of the only evidence concerning dogs in the bedroom. The data indicates that sleep has poorer efficiency with the dog sleeping on the bed, as compared to a dog sleeping simply in the bedroom. If we consider a satisfactory sleep efficiency to be greater than 80%, as this study does, then a dog in the bedroom is acceptable.
- Sheparcl JW. Pets and sleep [abstract]. Sleep. 2002;25(suppl): A520.
- Krahn LE, Tovar MD, Miller B. Are pets in the bedroom a problem? Mayo Clin Proc. 20I5;90(I2):I663-I665.
- American Veterinary Medicine Foundation. U.S. pet ownership & demographics sourcebook (2012). Accessed December 10, 2013.
- Patel S, Miller B, Kosiorek H, Parish J, Lyng P, Krahn L. The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2017;92(9):1368-1372.