Many dog owners have experienced this predicament before: do you let your dog sleep in bed or do you ignore his puppy’s eyes?
Also confusing is part two of the predicament: Would you sleep better or worse with your dog in bed?
When Inverse asked the question to Reddit, the user high6ix replied, “Our dog is ruining my sleep. Because of their size, it forces my partner to use more of the bed, which in turn results in my knees in my back or my feet knocking off the bed. “
But their experience, while not unique, is not final either. Studies, veterinarians and other pet owners paint a mixed picture depending on the dog and type of living.
In this article, Inverse reveals all of your questions about the science of co-sleeping with furry friends, the pros and cons of sharing a bed with a puppy, and tips on how to get your dog to sleep through the night.
Is it bad to let your dog sleep with you?
Is Sleeping With Dogs Good For Us? Scientific studies produce contradicting results. Getty
Research shows that dogs are diurnal creatures – sleep at night and run around during the day – just like humans. Because dogs evolved alongside humans, a 2020 study suggests that dogs are likely to have adapted to human circadian sleep patterns, including traits like rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and deep sleep, which are common in both dogs and occurs in humans.
But when it comes to whether sleeping with dogs is better or worse for human health, it’s a little harder to say.
Some studies suggest the benefits of dog ownership for human sleep. A 2019 study found that owning dogs improved people’s sleep time, while a 2018 study found that dog owners fell asleep more easily than those without puppies.
It’s less clear when it comes to the benefits of having a dog that actually sleeps in your bed. According to a 2017 report published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings magazine, “the presence of a dog in the bedroom cannot interfere with human sleep.” However, the researchers also write that this depends on whether the dog is just in the room or sleeping on your bed – their results suggest that people slept less efficiently when the dog was on the bed rather than just in the room .
A study from 2018 found that sleeping together with dogs leads to “measurable but slight impairment of the general quality of sleep”. Dogs stayed active about 20 percent of the night, and humans were 4.3 times more likely to stay awake when dogs were awake. However, the study still states, “These adverse effects must be weighed against the benefits of co-sleeping” with dogs.
The benefits of sleeping with a dog in bed
Dog company brings numerous mental health benefits, especially during stressful times.
Dogs that sleep in bed can also temporarily provide a sense of comfort when our normal human sleeping partners are gone, Ryan Llera tells Inverse. Llera is a veterinarian at Kingston Veterinary Clinic in Ontario, Canada. He and his wife share a bed with their two dogs.
Pet owners who posted to Inverse on Reddit agree.
“There is nothing better than sleeping with a dog in front of and behind you. Such an insane feeling of comfort and security, ”says user westcoastgirl55 to Inverse.
Another Redditor agrees, describing how her dog keeps her from worrying in bed: “I have some mental health issues so sleep and relaxation in general can be difficult for me, but my dogs make all the difference.”
Reddit user CryptographerLost407 says that their dog often wakes up first when there are nightly noises, which has contradictingly helped them sleep better: “I’m a very light sleeper, so that helped me a lot – not moving at every sound. “
Reddit user GellieBean tells Inverse, “I’m getting terrible sleep paralysis. For some reason [dog] Cuddling prevents me from having an episode. “
Trained service dogs can actually help treat people with certain sleep disorders, including narcolepsy and sleep apnea, according to US Service Animals.
The disadvantages of sleeping with a dog in bed
Users of Reddit’s r / pets subreddit highlight one major drawback of sleeping with a dog in bed: the lack of space and the fact that dogs can make the bed too warm.
“I realized that when there was me, my fiance, and the dog – he’s a little beagle – there just wasn’t enough room in our big bed,” Reddit user Vieamort told Inverse.
“It has the potential erode this bond. “
Starfish or dogs lying with their legs apart in the middle of the bed are a common problem for many dog owners. One Redditor who described his dog as a “fluffy hot water bottle” remembered his dog wandering into the center of his king-size bed.
Another Redditor claimed “if you want to sleep well, no dogs in bed” before adding that they still sleep with two dogs.
Is It Safe To Sleep In Bed With A Dog?
Successful sharing of a bed with a dog will depend on whether you have allergies and whether your dog’s temperament is okay with sharing the room. Getty
It is generally not dangerous for an adult to sleep with a puppy, Llera says. He adds one major caveat, however: the success of co-sleeping depends entirely on the dog’s temperament and whether he’s good at sharing space. For example, some dogs can be startled by disturbance at night, leading to potentially dangerous encounters.
“When they start learning easily in a deep sleep, one of their reactions is to be attentive, which can lead to a growl or a crack,” says Llera.
If you have a tendency to fall asleep, you and your pup can be physically separated during the night, explains Llera. Insomnia – both on the human and canine side – can affect the bond between owner and pet.
“It has the potential to undermine that bond,” says Llera.
Other vets point out the potential of dogs to cause allergies – they can bring dirt, pollen, and other allergens into the bedroom. If that’s a problem, Llera says sleeping with a dog may not be right for you.
Tips for sharing your bed with a dog
When you’re ready to get it working, here are a few tips to help your pooch sleep more comfortably and provide both of you with a good night’s sleep.
For example, your dog can jump into bed and take your desired sleeping place – a challenge that becomes even more cumbersome with multiple pets. Reddit user PetFriendlyNetwork suggests gently tricking your dogs with treats so everyone can find a place on the bed:
“The challenge is to find a way to bed when the dogs get there first. To do that, I usually have them line up across the room for goodies and then run to the bed to get there first! “
Twitter user @GrantLorrell suggests creating a specific spot on the bed for your pooch so it doesn’t take up your space: “My dog was an 80-pound American bulldog, so I found it was a lot smoother than him to place on the bed. ”
Llera agrees, “Teaching them to sleep in a specific spot on the bed can help.” Based on his own experience with a dog, he suggests placing a blanket under the foot of the bed to indicate where the dog sleeps .
“Go shopping greater Bed.”
If you let your dog sleep in bed, don’t assume you can cuddle him.
“I think most dogs don’t want to be cuddled or held or anything like that – they think it’s too warm,” says Llera.
If your dog wakes up or has trouble sleeping, it will likely affect the quality of your human sleep as well. In this case, Llera suggests teaching your dog to sleep on a comfortable dog bed on the floor instead of your human bed.
What to do if your dog does not sleep through the night
If your dog has trouble sleeping regularly at night, it could be a sign of greater health problems, experts say. Getty
Some dogs snore, just like humans. However, if your dog has persistent sleep problems, it could indicate more pressing health issues, says Llera. Dogs with heart failure or breathing difficulties such as asthma may have trouble sleeping well.
Certain brachycephalic dogs can also have difficulty breathing at night due to respiratory problems related to their small nostrils, although Llera notes that problems can often be corrected surgically. These dogs include:
- Boston Terrier
Amherst Veterinary Hospital notes that difficulty sleeping at night can be a sign of major health problems such as:
- Urinary tract infection
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Kidney disease
- Cognitive decline
If your dog has trouble sleeping regularly at night, consult your veterinarian about the appropriate next steps and whether your pet has any health concerns.
Ultimately, successfully sharing a bed with a dog depends on the dog. Some will keep you up with snoring while others will make you cozy. Most of the time, they’ll likely do both.
But if you’ve read all of this and are still having trouble sleeping comfortably with your pup, what should you do? Llera has a simple suggestion:
“Buy a bigger bed.”