The Scientific Reason for Why Your Dog Should Never Sleep in the Bed

Other than the fact that it's super gross

Dog sitting on the bed.
This feller is helping you get your eight hours.
Conner Baker/Unsplash

According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, nearly half of all dog owners let their pups sleep in their beds with them. The survey discovered that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs regularly sleep with their owners.

If you’re the half of the dog-owning population that believes dogs should not sleep in dog beds, those statistics are potentially nauseating. If you’re the other half, well … use them as validation for a practice you likely know isn’t sanitary, but find too much comfort in to move on from.

Wherever you stand on the hygiene of the matter, though, there’s one significant reason that dogs should have their own beds — and ideally, their own rooms — for sleeping. Sharing the mattress with a dog can take a toll on your quality of sleep.

A recent study conducted by Mayo Clinic measured the “sleep efficiency” (the number of minutes you actually spend sleeping after climbing into bed) of 40 adults who share beds with dogs. The results weren’t extreme, but were telling nonetheless. “Co-sleepers” could expect an average of 14 minutes of lost sleep per night, a 5% decrease in efficiency compared to the average sleeper.

Obviously, a quarter of an hour isn’t too much time. It won’t dramatically contribute to “sleep debt,” a voguish term for the gap between how much sleep people are supposed to get and how much they actually bank each night. But regardless, it’s not great to be in the habit of waking up in the middle of the night.

Dogs squirm, they bark, they have nightmares. They can wake up and wander around. It’s an extra challenge to process these disturbances when they’re happening at the foot of your bed. The issue probably isn’t out of control — the phrase “dogsomnia” seems a bit melodramatic — but if you have the option to sleep separately from your dog, you probably should.

That said, for some owners the bond created through co-sleeping trumps whatever extra dose of tiredness they may wake up with in the morning. It’s hard to break the cycle of sleeping next to a dog; they provide a sense of comfort and security. And while dogs can fall asleep anywhere (the study found their sleep efficiency doesn’t really vary), they likely enjoy the sense of camaraderie of getting to hang out by their human for the night.

Man’s best friend or not, though — at a time when quality sleep is at a premium, you should probably put yourself in a position to succeed each night. Your doggo will be downstairs, tail wagging, no matter what.

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