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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

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

1
Department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, Canisius College, Buffalo 14208 NY, USA
2
School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Bundaberg 4670, Australia
3
Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Adelaide 5000, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020278
Received: 7 January 2020 / Revised: 31 January 2020 / Accepted: 8 February 2020 / Published: 11 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sleep Behaviour and Physiology of Domestic Dogs)
Humans commonly share their beds with companion animals, yet little is known regarding how pets impact sleep. In survey-based studies, pet owners report that their dogs favorably affect sleep quality, but prior actigraphy-based studies of human-dog co-sleeping have concluded the practice can lead to sleep arousals and disturbances and, thus, reduce sleep efficiency (i.e. the ratio of time spent asleep in a night as compared to the time spent in bed). We examined actigraphy data from women and dogs and sleep diary data to investigate the apparent disconnect between objective and subjective reports regarding dogs’ effects on sleep. We also analyzed data minute-by-minute to assess whether dog movement impacted the likelihood the human would transition from an inactive to active state. We found associations between human and dog movement over sleep periods and that dogs influenced human movement more than humans influenced dog movement. Humans were largely unaware of their dog’s nighttime movements, and they rarely reported that their dog awakened them during the night. Additional research on more diverse samples and studies that use polysomnography and behavioral observations are necessary for developing a better understanding of how pets affect the quality of human sleep.
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 actigraphy; bedsharing; co-sleeping; dogs; human–animal interaction; pets; sleep
MDPI and ACS Style

Hoffman, C.L.; Browne, M.; Smith, B.P. Human-Animal Co-Sleeping: An Actigraphy-Based Assessment of Dogs’ Impacts on Women’s Nighttime Movements. Animals 2020, 10, 278.

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