Canine Co-Sleeping: Should you boot your dog out of the bed?

5. Stress and Anxiety

“There are all kinds of medical benefits to having a pet,” says Lisa Shives, MD, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine, a sleep center outside Chicago. “And some people might feel safer or calmer with a dog in their bed.”

Shives sleeps with her 45-pound dog in the bed, much like many other pet owners in the world, including those overburdened with stress and anxieties. This predilection for canine co-sleeping isn’t just a friendly bargain for pillow real estate, either. In an article published in Sleep Review Magazine, a team of sleep experts led by Mary W. Rose, PsyD, CBSM reported that those who suffer from PTSD and sleep near their service animals were less likely to experience interruptive nightmares.

“In the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers system, service As are being more widely used to diminish the impact of PTSD-related nightmares through training in which they immediately awaken the nightmare patient and provide comfort, a role that no medication has yet to accomplish,” Rose wrote. “Dogs are also used to mitigate anxiety, which is often associated with insomnia, and to modify hyperarousal and hypervigilance, which in turn creates a more amenable mood state for sleep initiation, as well as a greater sense of safety in those who are uneasy in the dark and/or night and who tend to phase-reverse to dodge nighttime sleep.”

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