You know what the Earth just doesn't deserve? Dogs. Who knew that loyalty, friendship, companionship, and so much more could all be bundled into a four-legged pup. It'll come as no surprise that owning a precious doggo can lead to an enormous number of benefits for your overall wellbeing, and it seems that women who co-sleep with their dog can actually improve their quality of slumber, according to a recent survey.
Published in Anthrozoös, a journal dedicated to the interactions of people and animals, researchers from Canisius College and the University of Florida found that while there is countless data on the positive and negative impacts of sleeping with a human partner, "there has been little exploration of the impacts that pets have on human sleep quality." The team decided to rectify this, and conducted an online survey among over nine hundred women in the United States to further "investigate relationships between pet ownership and human sleep."
While their findings did not explicitly show "a strong relationship between pet ownership status or bed-sharing conditions and sleep quality," those who shared their bed with their pups "were perceived to disturb sleep less and were associated with stronger feelings of comfort and security," especially when compared with human bed partners or cats.
Yep, it seems that those who co-slept with their cats "were reported to be equally as disruptive as human partners, and were associated with weaker feelings of comfort and security than both human and dog bed partners." Sorry, cat lovers.
The comfort and security that you feel from petting or being in close proximity to a dog is all down to the release of oxytocin, "a hormone whose many functions include stimulating social bonding, relaxation and trust, and easing stress," as reported by The Washington Post.
"Dogs have somehow hijacked this oxytocin bonding pathway, so that just by making eye contact, or [by] playing or hugging our dog, the oxytocin in both us and our dog goes up," neuroscientist Brian Hare explained. "This is why dogs are wonderful in any kind of situation."
For those who struggle with sleep or being alone, it's no surprise that dogs help alleviate anxiety and promote a feeling of safety when it comes to bedtime. From your dog's perspective, it can help address separation anxiety and can also strengthen your bond. I mean, who wouldn't want that?
Although, that's not to say that canines are the perfect bedtime companion. Another study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that "human sleep efficiency was lower if the dog was on the bed as opposed to simply in the room." This makes sense if you take your dog's temperament and personality into account. If your pal has a tendency to wriggle, sleep-run, and consistently wake up, they're probably best in their own bed.
That doesn't mean that you can't benefit from their company even if they're not directly beside you, as the study found that "a dog's presence in the bedroom may not be disruptive to human sleep, as was previously suspected."
So if you struggle with sleep and you're lucky enough to have a pup, make sure it's welcome to snuggle up at bedtime — something I'm sure won't be too hard to implement.