Quick poll: Would you rather sleep next to a dog or another human being? If you said "dog" or "OMG What a ridiculous question—OBVIOUSLY dog. Every single time, dog. People are the worst and dogs are the best so...dog," then you're not alone. And, if you're a woman, at least, that dog-loving response isn't even unfair hate on your fellow homosapiens—it's the scientifically healthier answer.
In a new study published in the Journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology, researchers at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York found that women who own dogs don't just feel happier when they sleep next to their pups, they actually sleep better that way. The women in the study reported less disruptive sleep, along with greater feelings of both security and comfort when sleeping with their dogs compared to sleeping alone or with other non-dog beings.
Now, the sad news is that the results are based on self-reported data, not monitored sleep studies. (We're waiting on that study, though—quick, someone fund it already and don't worry, I officially volunteer as tribute. It's a huge imposition, but my dog, Sidekick, and I are down to let researchers watch us cuddle all night in the name of science).
For the study, 962 women living in the U.S. were interviewed about their co-sleeping habits and 55 percent said they share their bed least one dog and 31 percent admitted to sharing their bed with at least one cat (oh, and 57 percent said their share their bed with a human partner, too, meaning that there's definitely some overlap and woman-human partner-pet three-way co-sleeping going on).
According to the study, dogs make the best bed partners—pups are less likely to wake their owners up in the middle of the night than cats or other humans, apparently. Cats and other humans are equally-disruptive to women's sleep and, on top of making it impossible to get a good night's sleep, cats and people don't give women the same feelings of comfort and security that doggos do. Common sense? Yes, but it's nice to have that common sense endorsed by science and published in a major journal, all the same.
The benefits of sharing a bed with your dog don't end there, either. Dog owners who share a bed with their pet also report going to bed and waking up earlier than cat co-sleepers, which seems like proof that cats' lazy, sleep-all-day habits are a bad influence on everyone around them. Also, you know, having a dog is a bigger commitment as an owner than having a cat. If your cat needs to pee and you're still sleeping, she'll stroll over to her litter box and do her thing. If your dog realizes he needs to potty at 6 a.m., you're about to get licked in the face and led to the door.
"Dog ownership and its associated responsibilities may cause individuals to adhere to a stricter routine," researchers said. "Keeping to a consistent sleep schedule may be beneficial to dog owners."
Sleeping better with a dog around isn't just a women-specific thing. A study published last year by researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona found that people in general (the study involved 40 men and women) sleep better with a dog in the bedroom. The Mayo Clinic's study, however, did find that letting your dog sleep in the bed (as opposed to just another place in your bedroom) could actually disrupt your sleep cycle. These mixed results are just proof that further dog/human co-sleeping research is needed, right?