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5MinuteConsult Journal Club

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie


Sleep Health, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.sleh.2021.02.007

Study Summary 

This observational study of 188 children was conducted to evaluate the relationship between childhood stress and sleep on heart outcomes.  Researchers identified an incidental relationship between children who sleep with pets and outcomes.  It was originally thought co-sleeping with a pet would be detrimental to sleep parameters, due to the pet’s activity, their sounds, and the potential to induce respiratory issues in those with allergies or asthma.

The evaluation included children and parents completing questionnaires about sleep practices, timing, sleep duration, awakenings and sleep quality, data from children wearing an accelerometer (to assess movement) and one polysomnogram.  Co-sleeping with a pet was found to occur: never (65.4%), sometimes (16.5%) and frequently (18.1%).

Outcomes found the presence of a pet sleeping in bed with a child had no influence on any of the parameters measured across all 3 groups, including quality of sleep.Most studies on pets and sleep have been conducted in adults.  For those with chronic pain, 80% found co-sleeping with pets beneficial, through decreased sleep related anxiety and stress, as well as loneliness.  Among adult women, dog owners reported more consistency with regards to sleep, with greater comfort and security, and fewer disruptions than when sharing a bed with a human partner.


Having a pet co-sleep with a child has no adverse outcomes, and pending further research, may have some benefits (less anxiety, etc.).  With the sensitivity around allergy and asthma, having pets sleep in bed should not be assumed to make sleep quality worse.

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Contributed by Frank J. Domino, MD, June 16, 2021