Should We Sleep With Our Dogs?

Our beloved Carl, as a puppy

Pictured is our beloved Carl, as a puppy. He passed away last month at age 13, but was always my bed buddy and slept right next to me.

Many pet owners may secretly wonder whether they should let their dogs sleep with them at night. For some fur parents that question may never enter their mind as the resounding answer would be “Of course! Why would anyone ask such a foolish question?”

Personally, I can’t imagine NOT sleeping with my dogs. When I am at home, my dogs are always with me, morning, noon and night.

When I first got married, my husband worked long hours, often nights and sometimes the whole weekend. My constant companion was my corgi, Simon. I always felt safe, although he was not much of a watch dog, his bark sounded scary. He always slept at the foot of the bed. He slept like a rock, I did too, but morning time it was up early for a walk and breakfast. In the evening he wasn’t happy until we were settled upstairs for bedtime at a reasonable hour. Simon had a strong herding instinct as Corgi’s do, he would make a point of getting me off the couch for a walk and then into bed. I never felt lonely or frightened with my dog to protect me, especially at night.

By the way, according to the American Veterinary Association, more than 43 million American households have dogs. And nearly two-thirds of pet owners said they consider their pooch a part of their family. [source]

And according to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association

  • nearly half of dogs sleep in their owner’s beds
  • 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners
  • 62% of cats sleep with their adult owners, and another 13% of cats sleep with children [source]



A 2015 study by the Mayo Clinic offered findings that sparked discussions on both sides of the debate. Articles popped up declaring that science showed that you should not sleep with your pets. Many articles also boasted that research supported the practice.

The study was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in May of 2016 and officially concluded that “Humans with a single dog in their bedroom maintained good sleep efficiency; however, the dog’s position on/off the bed made a difference. A dog’s presence in the bedroom may not be disruptive to human sleep, as was previously suspected.”

However, a deeper look at the study revealed several limitations to the research and findings.

  • no control group (sleepers without dogs in their bedrooms or their beds)
  • most participants were healthy, middle-aged women
  • sample size was small – only 40 healthy dog-owning adults over a five month period
  • none of the human participants were suffering sleep disorders
  • study only included dogs that were at least 6 months old

“The researchers first looked at sleep efficiency, the percentage of time in bed actually spent sleeping. Here, the difference between bed-sharers and bedroom-sharers wasn’t obvious. People with dogs in their rooms, but not in their beds, had an 83-percent sleep efficiency level, and people with dogs in their beds had an average sleep efficiency rate of 80 percent. Neither of these rates is alarming: 80 percent is considered satisfactory sleep efficiency; 85 and 89 percent is normal; and above 90 percent is very efficient sleeping.”

But a deeper probe revealed some problems with human-dog co-sleeping. This arrangement led owners to wake up more throughout the night compared to their counterparts. This kind of choppy snooze is like sleeping for four hours a night: it leaves you grumpy and unable to pay attention.”

“Basically, humans sleep better when not spooning dogs. The dog-spooners scored a sleep efficiency rating of 80 percent, while the people who know that dog beds exist scored 83 percent. As the report noted, “Humans with a single dog in their bedroom maintained good sleep efficiency; however, the dog’s position on/off the bed made a difference.”

The study’s author, Lois Krahn, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine on Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus, pointed out that “that having pets in the bedroom is not a disruption as long as they don’t sleep on the bed. This provides solace for pet owners who partake in human-pet bed sharing and ‘find comfort and a sense of security’ from their presence”

However, there have also been more recent studies focusing on a different aspect of the dog human + sleep equation. Researchers at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, found that women tend to sleep better next to dogs than they do next to human partners. This effort compiled the results of surveys (not clinical trials) from 962 women living across the U.S. According to the results, 55% said that they shared their bed with at least one dog and 31% shared their bed with at least one cat. Of those women, 57 percent also slept with a member of their own species. [source]

The 2018 study published in Anthrozoös, a multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals, was led by associate professor Christy L. Hoffman. It concluded that “human partners and cats were equally disruptive to a woman’s sleep, whereas dogs were less likely to wake their owners up.” [source] So why the difference between cats and dogs? Well, according to Hoffman, it may be due to “dog owners tending to have better sleep habits and stricter daily routines than than people who don’t have dogs: On the whole, dog owners had earlier bedtimes and wake-up times than women with cats.” [source]

I will let you draw your own conclusions from this latest research. But from a non-scientific perspective, there are many positives of sharing your sleep time and space with your pet. According to, the benefits include physical comfort, warmth (especially during the colder seasons or in northern regions), increased calmness, and lessening of stress and anxiety. It can strengthen the bonding with your pet and serve as an emotional treat for them. Along with the fact that some people just personally like sleeping with their animals, pets can provide soothing background or white noise, and even function as a secondary alarm clock.

The research on this topic is mixed as well. A study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases found the young, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, including transplant patients, people with diabetes, and those who are HIV-positive face a greater risk of becoming ill after sharing a bed with a pet. Although contracting a disease from a family pet is rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes about 60 percent of all human pathogens can be transmitted by an animal. [source]

Today, Jim still works some nights and has a crazy schedule. Gypsy, Yoshi and Frazier are my bed buddies now. The others prefer their own beds. Gypsy likes to rise before dawn and have her morning cookie, then a quick check of the yard. The others follow her lead. We are most definitely early to bed early to rise!

The dogs set our routine and provide comfort and love. I can’t imagine not having a dog. Do I sleep better with the dogs as opposed to a human? Let’s just say, “Don’t make me choose!”


Is it a good idea to let your dog sleep in the bedroom? [cbsnews]
Should I Let My Dog Sleep With Me? [webmd]
Is It Safe to Sleep with Your Pet? [webmd]
Pets in Your Bed [furbo]
12 Benefits of Sleeping With Your Dog
Should Your Dog Sleep on the Bed with You? [whole dog journal]
Here’s Why Sleeping With Your Dog Is Actually Good For You [time]
Women Sleep Better With Dogs Than With Human Partners, Study Says [huffpost]
An Examination of Adult Women’s Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing [tandfonline]
Sleeping With Dogs is Bad for Your Sleep and Health [newsweek]
Science Says You Shouldn’t Sleep Next to Your Dog [vice]
The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment [mayoclinicproceedings]
Zoonoses in the Bedroom []


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