Who’s sharing your bed tonight? Thanks to research published in the Anthrozoos journal, the least disruptive bed buddy for a woman is actually a dog. The findings also showed that a cat and human were equally as disruptive.

Dogs make the best bed buddy for a woman

Cats are as disruptive to sleep as a human. Photo: Chris Abney

People in many parts of the world commonly share their beds not only with human partners but also with dogs and cats. Self-report and actigraphy data have shown that sleeping with an adult human partner has both positive and negative impacts on human sleep, but there has been little exploration of the impacts that pets have on human sleep quality.

Data was collected online from 962 adult women living in the United States to investigate relationships between pet ownership and human sleep. Fifty-five percent of participants shared their bed with at least one dog and 31% with at least one cat. In addition, 57% of participants shared their bed with a human partner.

Our findings did not show a strong relationship between pet ownership status or bedsharing conditions and sleep quality as assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), although according to this measure, a high percentage of study participants did experience sleep quality deficits. It is possible that pet ownership contributed to the high global PSQI scores we observed, especially since all but 7% of participants resided with dogs and/or cats. Other measures included in this study indicate that dogs and cats, and where they sleep, may indeed affect sleep habits and perceptions of sleep quality. Dog owners had earlier bedtimes and wake times than individuals who had cats but no dogs.

Dogs make the best bed buddy

The results of the study say, compared with human bed partners…

  • dogs who slept in the owner’s bed were perceived to disturb sleep less and were associated with stronger feelings of comfort and security.
  • Conversely, cats who slept in their owner’s bed were reported to be equally as disruptive as human partners and
  •  cats were associated with weaker feelings of comfort and security than both human and dog bed partners.

Follow-up research is necessary to determine if pet owners’ perceptions of pets’ impacts on their sleep align with objective measures of sleep quality.