I'm beginning to think that there really isn't any part of life that a dog can't make better. I consider myself a morning person, but I definitely haven't always been that way. For the first 20 years of my life, I dreaded getting out of my warm, cozy bed in the morning. But for all of my night owls and dog lovers out there, a new study will give you life. Once you learn how your dog affects your sleep schedule, you'll be thanking your own pooch for giving you an extra morning boost.
A study of 962 women, published in Anthrozoös, a multidisciplinary journal that explores the interactions between people and animals, proved once and for all my long-held claim that pups make the best snugglers. The researchers surveyed the women about their general sleep habits, and while they found that cats and human partners alike both disturbed the participants' sleep in more or less the same way, dogs pulled through as the real champions by being less likely to wake their owners throughout the night. The participants also reported "stronger feelings of comfort and security" from snuggling up with their canine cuddle buddies compared to feline or human companions, as per the research paper.
Apparently, being a dog mom might also help you get out of bed in the morning, as the researchers discovered a link between sleeping with your pup and becoming a morning person. “Dog ownership and its associated responsibilities may cause individuals to adhere to a stricter routine,” the study's researchers said, as per New York Post. “Keeping to a consistent sleep schedule may be beneficial to dog owners.”
If you've ever been the proud mama of a pup yourself, then you know that there's nothing more motivational to start the day than your little guy's kisses and tail-wagging. Of course, the fact that he probably needs to be let out to relieve himself is also great motivation for hopping out of bed (protect your fuzzy winter blankets at all costs).
If you're ready to welcome your pooch under the covers, there are a few things you should know to make sure that both of you get the best sleep possible. First of all, it might be useful for your dog to have a dedicated spot on your bed so that he doesn't accidentally take over the whole space, Patrick Mahaney, a veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist of California Pet Acupuncture & Wellness, told Reader's Digest. Speaking from experience, even the smallest dog can gradually scooch you into a tiny corner of the bed, so guiding your fur baby to one place can create healthy boundaries.
Additionally, The Better Sleep Council suggests making sure there are no dog toys within reach during the night so your pup doesn't suddenly get the urge to play tug of war or start gnawing on a squeaky ball at 3 a.m. "Just as you might not want to bring your electronics, televisions or other distractions to the bedroom with you," the organization explained, "your dog shouldn’t either."
At the end of the day (or should I say, first thing in the morning), don't give yourself a ruff time if sleeping with your pooch just doesn't work out for you. “My main recommendation is for people to take a look at their setup and carefully consider whether it is truly working or not,” Dr. Lois Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine, told TIME, “and not allow loyalty to their pet to blind them to consequences that aren’t desirable to their sleep.”
And if you really find yourself missing the cuddle time, you can always take a nap with your pup on the couch.
So if you're a proud dog mom, consider getting your little guy used to joining you at bedtime. Who knows — Monday morning might just look a little more appealing than usual.