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An Exploratory Study of Human–Dog Co-sleeping Using Actigraphy: Do Dogs Disrupt Their Owner’s Sleep?

Bradley P. Smith, Matthew Browne, Jessica Mack, Thomas G. Kontou
Anthrozoös 2018 v.31 no.6 pp. 727-740
actigraphy, dogs, females, humans, pet ownership, sleep deprivation, time series analysis
This exploratory study aimed to contribute to the limited research on human–animal co-sleeping by investigating the extent to which human sleep is disturbed by co-sleeping with a dog. Five female Australian dog owners and their dogs were fitted with activity monitors for seven nights. Raw activity of the dog and human for each sleep episode were matched and then compared using a time series correlation. Dog movement was a significant leading indicator of human movement, with dog activity positively indicating human activity up to 2.5 minutes in advance. Dogs were active for about 20% of the night, with humans 4.3 times more likely to be awake during dog activity than during dog inactivity (10.55%/2.45%). Co-sleeping appears to cause sleep disturbances (both arousals and wake ups), which is reinforced by poor scores on validated sleep measures. There also appears to be disparity between these objective measures and subjective evaluations of sleep quality and number of disturbances. At least in the small sample considered in the present study, co-sleeping with a dog appears to result in measurable, but relatively mild, reductions in overall sleep quality. This detrimental impact must be weighed against the benefits of co-sleeping.