Women say dogs 'better bed partners' than humans or cats: study
Women report fewer disruptions to their sleep from dogs in their bed than they get from cats or other humans. (Burst / Pexels)
Ryan Flanagan, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2018 1:27PM EST
Any woman who wants a good night’s sleep should think about kicking their human partner out of bed and replacing them with a dog, according to a new study.
Researchers at Canisius College and the University of Florida based their findings on a survey of 962 adult women from the United States. They classified the women based on which combination of humans, dogs and cats they shared their beds with and looked for differences in sleep quality between the various groups.
The researchers found that women reported fewer disruptions to their sleep from dogs than from human partners. Dogs were also said to provide stronger feelings of comfort and security.
The same could not be said of cats, which were reported to be just as disruptive as humans while making their owners even less comfortable.
Christy Hoffman, the study’s lead author, is quick to point out that the findings are only related to perceptions of how women are sleeping. When it came to the actual quality of their sleep – as measured by responses to questions about sleeping habits – they found no evidence that, on its own, sharing a bed with a pet improves or worsens sleep quality.
“At least based on women’s perceptions of how dogs, cats and human partners affect their sleep, they feel that dogs are better bed partners,” Hoffman told CTVNews.ca via telephone.
There is reason to think the perceptions of sounder sleeps may not mirror the reality of the situation. Research has shown that women sleep better alone than with a human partner, even though they tend to believe the opposite is true.
Additionally, the researchers found that people who own dogs tend to go to bed and wake up earlier than people who own cats but no dogs.
Hoffman said that could be in part because cats tend to have different sleep patterns than humans and dogs, which largely stay on the same schedule – at least until the dog needs to relieve itself.
“Cats tend to be more active at night than dogs or humans, which certainly could contribute to increased disruptions to human sleep,” she said.
“I hear a lot of stories of people talking about their cats pawing at them at 3 o’clock in the morning, when the cat might be ready to go for the day – but the human and the dog are not usually ready to go at 3 o’clock in the morning.”
Hoffman said she would like to see future research focus on determining whether the perceived benefits to sharing beds with dogs and drawbacks of sharing beds are accurate. This could be done by using Fitbit-type devices to monitor the sleep of a human and animal sharing the same bed and determine whether their sleep is being disrupted at the same time.
A recent Australian study performed a small-scale analysis along these lines, tracking five women and their dogs. The team behind that study found that dog awakenings were likely to lead to human awakenings, causing “measurable, but relatively mild, reductions in overall sleep quality” for the humans.