Are dogs OK to sleep in your bedroom or even in your bed? Whilst it’s been a topic of hot debate for as long as there have been dogs in people’s homes, it would appear that not only is it OK, it’s actually good for you (and them)!

The Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona conducted a study of some 150 patients. 74 of those people are pet owners and more than half of those 74 allowed their pets to sleep in the bedroom with them.

20 percent of owners described their pets as disruptive at night, 41 percent said their pets are unobtrusive and many of the study’s participants stated that their pets contributed positively to their sleep, providing security, companionship or relaxation.”.

Dogs are more dependent on humans than cats, the study showed. Dogs do a better job developing a “consistent sleep pattern” with their owners. But, dogs can also bark or whimper during the night if they are dissatisfied.

Cats rarely spend the entire night in one place because they tend to roam.” Nevertheless, some cat owners describe their cat as a valued source of relaxation.”.

Dogs Sleeping in the Bedroom: Can it be Harmful?

It’s not all plain sailing. A previous study offers an alternative tail of night-time restfulness where it concerns dogs in the bedroom.

While countless pet owners peacefully sleep with a warm pet nearby, a Mayo Clinic study, presented in 2014 at the 29th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, found an increase in the number of people experiencing sleep disturbances because of their pets.

A previous Mayo Clinic study published in 2002 reported that of patients who visited the clinic’s sleep centre and owned pets, only one percent reported any inconvenience from their pets at night. The new study shows a larger number of patients — 10 percent in 2013 — reported annoyance that their pets sometimes disturbed their sleep.

“The study determined that while the majority of patients did not view their pets intolerably disturbing their sleep, a higher percentage of patients experienced irritation — this may be related to the larger number of households with multiple pets,” says Lois Krahn, M.D., Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and author of the study. “When people have these kinds of sleep problems, sleep specialists should ask about companion animals and help patients think about ways to optimize their sleep.”

Between August and December 2013, 110 consecutive patients at the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Arizona provided information about pets at night as part of a comprehensive sleep questionnaire. Questions covered the type and number of pets, where the animals slept, any notable behaviours and whether the patient was disturbed. The survey showed that 46 percent of the patients had pets and 42 percent of those had more than one pet. The most popular pets were dogs, cats and birds.

The disturbances by pets that patients reported included snoring, whimpering, wandering, the need to “go outside” and medical needs.

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