Human-Animal Co-Sleeping: An Actigraphy-Based Assessment of Dogs' Impacts on Women's Nighttime Movements

Animals (Basel). 2020 Feb 11;10(2):278. doi: 10.3390/ani10020278.


Humans regularly enter into co-sleeping arrangements with human and non-human partners. Studies of adults who co-sleep report that co-sleeping can impact sleep quality, particularly for women. Although dog owners often choose to bedshare with their dogs, we know relatively little about the nature of these relationships, nor the extent to which co-sleeping might interfere with sleep quality or quantity. In an effort to rectify this, we selected a sample of 12 adult female human (M = 50.8 years) and dog dyads, and monitored their activity using actigraphy. We collected movement data in one-minute epochs for each sleep period for an average of 10 nights per participant. This resulted in 124 nights of data, covering 54,533 observations (M = 7.3 hours per night). In addition, we collected subjective sleep diary data from human participants. We found a significant positive relationship between human and dog movement over sleep periods, with dogs influencing human movement more than humans influenced dog movement. Dog movement accompanied approximately 50% of human movement observations, and dog movement tripled the likelihood of the human transitioning from a non-moving state to a moving state. Nevertheless, humans rarely reported that their dog disrupted their sleep. We encourage the continued exploration of human-animal co-sleeping in all its facets and provide recommendations for future research in this area.

Keywords: actigraphy; bedsharing; co-sleeping; dogs; human–animal interaction; pets; sleep.