When it comes to pets in our bed, researchers not prepared to let sleeping dogs lie

Published:30 October 2014

PhD candidate Peta Hazelton and her dog 'Bruce'

CQUniversity researchers are embarking on a more intensive survey of the effects of ‘human-animal co-sleeping’ after a preliminary study indicating those who co-slept with pets took longer to fall asleep and were more likely to wake up tired.
The preliminary study recently reported in the International Society for Anthrozoology quarterly publication ‘Anthrozoos’ drew on a subset of data from the 2012 Sealy Sleep Census. It reports that at least 10% of Australians co-sleep with at least one pet.
This data also indicated that, while ‘co-sleepers’ were not more likely to wake up due to a disturbance, those who did had a greater chance of being disturbed by dog barking or animals making noises.
However, there were no significant differences found in total self-reported sleep length or feelings of tiredness during the day.
Dr Bradley Smith co-authored the study with colleagues Dr Kirrilly Thompson, Dr Larissa Clarkson and Professor Drew Dawson from CQUniversity’s Appleton Institute in Adelaide.
“The continued practice of co-sleeping with pets suggests that there may be some benefits such as social support and social interaction, and increased feelings of personal security,” Dr Smith said.

“Honours student Peta Hazelton is now developing a more dedicated and comprehensive survey of human-animal co-sleeping practices, with a full questionnaire-based study, to gain even more understanding of the practice.”

Ms Hazelton said her more detailed research would look further into the co-sleeping practice and sleeping habits.

"It also aims to understand what may or may not influence co-sleeping behaviour, such as whether certain dog-owner interactions and perceptions of the relationship may or may not influence co-sleeping behaviour," she said.

"It will also identify whether attachment features, such as security and separation anxiety, are present in those who co-sleep.

"The project also aims to identify whether certain personality traits of the owner and the dog are common amongst co-sleepers.

"I want to determine whether these factors all differ between co-sleepers and non co-sleepers, not only to determine what may influence the practice but so later down the track further research could look into whether these differences (if any are found), particularly attachment and the relationship aspects, may be enhanced by the co-sleeping relationship."




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