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Mayo study: It's OK to snooze with your dog (sort of)

A Mayo Clinic study looks at how dogs in the bedroom (and on the bed) can impact your sleep quality.

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No dogs on the bed, please.

Megan Wollerton/CNET

Some dogs get free rein of their humans' bedroom. Some are banished for fear of causing a bad night's sleep. A new Mayo Clinic study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings this week says it's OK to let Mr. Fluffypants snooze with you, but there's a catch. Mr. Fluffypants needs his own bed. 

The study, titled "The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment," offers this plainspoken goal: "to objectively assess whether a dog in the bedroom or bed disturbs sleep." This has long been a topic of debate among pet owners. A previous Mayo Clinic study from 2015 surveyed 150 patients seen at the Center for Sleep Medicine. More than half allowed their pets to sleep in the bedroom, but a subset of those described their pets as disruptive to their slumber.

The newest Mayo study tracked the sleep quality of 40 dog-owning participants with no sleep disorders over the course of five months. Both the human and dog participants wore accelerometers for seven nights of the study.   

"We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets," says Mayo Clinic sleep medicine specialist Lois Krahn.

The study says it makes a difference whether the dog is on the bed or just simply in the bedroom. People with dogs on the bed suffered from lower sleep quality compared with people with dogs not allowed to snuggle on or under the covers.

It's important to note the study's limited sample size. None of the dogs were under 6 months old, so don't expect a full and pleasant night's sleep with a young and excitable puppy bouncing off the bedroom walls. 

Still, if you're looking for a good reason to let your beloved pup share your bedroom, then you can take heart in the study's ultimate conclusion: "A dog's presence in the bedroom may not be disruptive to human sleep, as was previously suspected."

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