Put dogs in their crates at night, experts say. Never let them in your room, they say. FALSE. Recent research has found that people sleep better with their dogs in the room — but there's one caveat: people who let dogs in the bed didn't sleep as well.
The research comes from the Center for Sleep Medicine on the Arizona campus of the Mayo Clinic. 40 adults participated, having their sleep evaluated while their dog was in the room over a period of five months. Both the pet and its human wore activity trackers that measured their sleeping habits. The researchers found that the canines helped bring a sense of comfort and security, thus improving sleep quality — and this was regardless of breed. In other words, you could have a chihuahua or a mastiff — both will help you catch some ZZZs.
There is one catch, though: this only applies to having your pooch in the room, and not right in the bed with you. Adults who did bring their furry friends into bed indeed sacrificed precious sleep. I can personally vouch for this, as my two 12-pound dogs — comprised mostly of fluff — enjoying taking up the entire bed, farting near my face, and waking up at 3:00 a.m. strangely excited for no reason. You never have to set an alarm, because a few hours later, they want to poop.
It's no great secret dogs are good for the soul. In fact, there's a good deal of research demonstrating how dogs improve your mental and physical health — and in a matter of a few minutes, no less. They can help reduce stress and anxiety by releasing oxytocin in you, which reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels. Your cholesterol may go down. They give you a sense of purpose, and help fight loneliness. They can regulate your breathing and alleviate muscle tension. Surveys have even suggested that taking your dog to work could make you more productive. They strengthen your bones, reduce your risk of stroke, protect you from heart problems, boost your immune system, and can even detect cancer. Dogs improve the quality of your life as well as the longevity. And they're really, really good listeners. Honestly. They'll sit there and listen to you all day without making a peep.
It makes perfect sense, then, that keeping your pal close throughout the night is good for your mind, body, and soul, and could help you sleep better. Even in a sleeping state, they help us stay calm and happy. With studies showing that simply making eye contact with a dog can boost your health, merely being in their presence offers benefits on its own.
If you're going to try bring your four-legged friend into the room with you, best taking their warning seriously about not allowing the dog into the bed. The reasons for this expand beyond a restless night of sleep. Take allergies. Even if you're not allergic to your dog, they all carry allergens. Furthermore, every time they go outside, they're exposed to even more — like pollen and dust — which stick to their fur or paws. And don't forget about the poo that your dog sniffs, steps in, or even eats, as well as the little poops that might stick to its fur after it goes #2. You don't see it; but it could be there. Do you want this stuff ending up in your bed? I think not.
If you're tempted to even try having the dog in the bed, be mindful that it probably won't be too pleased when you decide to switch back to the crate, keeping you up with whining or barking. Your safest bet might be to avoid it all together.
Despite these little pitfalls, no one can argue the mental and physical benefits of dogs. Let your little buddy curl up next to the bed tonight, and see if you sleep more peacefully.