If you want to end the argument about letting your pets in the bed once and for all, a new study in Anthrozoös, the journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology, has some answers.
While there have been many studies that look at how sleeping with a partner affects our sleep for better and worse, not much attention has been given to the animals in our homes, despite the fact that 67 percent of American households now own a dog or a cat.
In a new study of 962 American women done by researchers at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, more than half of the women surveyed—about 55 percent—share their bed with one or more dogs, and 31 percent share with one or more cats, nearly as many women as the 57 percent that share their bed with a human partner.
Female dog owners reported less disrupted sleep and stronger feelings of comfort and security when their dogs slept in their bed—even more so than sleeping with their partners did. Cats, on the other hand, were considered equally as disturbing as human partners, and provided less comfort and security than humans or dogs. Dog owners were also more likely than cat owners to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, which researchers attribute to the influence of their pets.
The study used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, which looks at factors like how often you have trouble falling asleep or getting out of bed during the night to determine overall sleep quality. Since 93 percent of the people surveyed were pet owners, researchers weren’t able to establish a significant difference in sleep quality between pet owners and non-pet owners, but if you already own a pet and struggle with feelings of anxiety that keep you awake, that might be a signal that it’s time to let the puppy into your bed—or time to kick the cat out of the bedroom.