Tag Archives: sleep

Study Sets Baseline for Sleep Patterns in Healthy Adult Dogs

A new canine sleep study from North Carolina State University could serve as a baseline for research on chronic pain and cognitive dysfunction in dogs, potentially improving detection and treatment of these conditions.

“The study was necessary because research on dogs and sleep has outpaced our basic knowledge about what a ‘normal’ sleep/wake cycle looks like,” says Margaret Gruen, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at NC State and corresponding author of the work. “The studies currently available are over 20 years old, only followed small numbers of dogs or dogs that were not in a home environment, and didn’t really capture data that is relevant to how dogs live (and sleep) now. We designed the study to update these findings and fill the knowledge gap.

“And for me, someone interested in how dogs develop and age, it’s a critically missing gap: we talk about a symptom of age-related cognitive dysfunction in dogs as being a disruption in the sleep/wake cycle without really understanding where the baseline is.”

The study followed 42 healthy adult dogs – 21 male and 21 female – ranging in age from 2 to 8 years old. The dogs wore activity monitors on their collars for a two-week period, and their owners filled out a questionnaire on the dogs’ sleep patterns. Functional linear modeling of the activity data showed that most dogs have two activity peaks during the day: a shorter window from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by a midday lull and a longer active period from about 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. All dogs were more active during weekends than weekdays.

“Since most of the participants were pets of people who work outside the home, we saw that the dogs were most active when human interaction happens,” Gruen says. “There were the occasional outliers – we did capture some midday ‘zoomies’ – but the pattern held true on average across 14 days for each dog. These findings aren’t surprising – they line up with many of the assumptions we’ve been making, but now the data are characterized and documented.”

The research revealed that weight and sex had an effect on the active periods; lighter dogs tended to be more active in a short period just after midnight, while female dogs seemed to be more active during the evening peak than males. Even in these healthy adult dogs, age had an effect; older dogs were less active during the peak activity times.

“Our hope is that this will serve as a foundational study for future work on the relationship between pain, cognitive dysfunction and sleep disruption, and as a study that is relevant to the way dogs live now,” Gruen says. “By establishing norms, we can better identify abnormalities and intervene earlier in the process. We can also use this as a baseline to evaluate development of adult sleep patterns in puppies.”

The research appears in Scientific Reports. NC State graduate student Hope Woods is first author. Duncan Lascelles, professor of translational pain research and management at NC State, also contributed to the work. Evolutionary anthropologist David Samson and his team, from the University of Toronto, Canada, created the functional linear models.

Source: North Caroline State University


Sleeping with your dog – yes or no?

USA bedding manufacturer, Casper, has produced a useful infographic about the research into the benefits of sleeping with your dog (and a few tips about when you probably shouldn’t).

Reasons to sleep with your dog

Source:  Casper.com

The essentials of sleep for dogs

What a great infographic about sleep and dogs.

Remember that our dogs need to sleep more than we do to get adequate rest because they enter REM sleep (deep sleep) less often.  Rest is important for the immune system and for recovery and inadequate rest can result in behavioral problems as well as other health problems.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

DogSleepInfographic

 

Women sleep better with dogs than with human partners

There are many dog trainers who advise against letting your dog sleep with you in bed.  Some new research by Dr Christy Hoffman at the Canisius College will challenge that notion.

Izzy the greyhound in bed

In a survey of 962 women living in the United States, dogs who slept with their female owners were found to disturb sleep less than a human counterpart and they provided stronger feelings of comfort and security.

Dogs’ sleep patterns more closely coincide with sleep patterns in humans than do the sleep patterns of cats, which may explain why dog moms stick to a stricter sleep schedule and go to bed earlier.

Cats didn’t fare quite as well in this research.  Cats were reported to be equally disruptive as human partners and were associated with weaker feelings of comfort and security compared to dogs or humans.

Journal citation:  An Examination of Adult Women’s Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing

Source:  Canisius College

Sharing your bed with your pet (or other humans)

About half of all pet owners share their beds or bedrooms with their pets at night. Although this has been the case through the ages, remarkably few studies have been done about the benefits and drawbacks of this practice.

In an article in Springer’s journal Human Nature, the authors argue that society regards both human-animal and adult-child co-sleeping with the same unnecessary apprehension. These concerns should, however, be set aside because both practices have their benefits, says lead author Bradley Smith of Central Queensland University in Australia.

sleeping together

Sleeping arrangements between humans have evolved over time and across cultures. In medieval Europe, for instance, sleep was a public and communal affair. It was not uncommon to receive visitors in the bedroom, or for many people to sleep in the same bed. Sleeping with others was a way to increase personal security, conserve resources, and generate warmth. Sleeping with children from birth is still the norm in many cultures, for instance in Egypt and among indigenous cultures in unindustrialized populations. Intergenerational co-sleeping is generally more prevalent in collectivist Asian countries than in contemporary, individualistic or industrialized Western cultures.

In the West, sleep is nowadays regarded as an individual and private experience that helps the body and mind to optimally rest and recuperate. The normative shift from sleep as a public and social affair to a private one arose through a complex “civilizing” process starting in the Victorian era. Social norms and rules began to dictate that each person should sleep in a single bed, in a private place away from public view, and wear appropriate sleeping attire. This gradually introduced the concept of the private bedroom and private sleep to many social classes.

In their paper, Smith and his co-authors use dogs as an example of human-animal co-sleeping. They compare human-canine sleeping with adult-child co-sleeping and argue that both forms of co-sleeping share common factors for establishment and maintenance, and have similar advantages and disadvantages.

According to the Australian researchers, current apprehension about human-animal co-sleeping and bed sharing between parents and their children focuses too much on possible negative aspects or consequences, such as poor health, impaired functioning, the development of problematic behavior, and even sexual dysfunction.

“Apart from its clear reproductive function for the survival of the species, as well as physiological support for the quality and quantity of sleep that are essential to individual health and well-being, co-sleeping fulfils basic psychological needs and reinforces and maintains social relations,” highlights Smith. “Throughout history, humans have shared their sleeping spaces with other humans and other animals.”

“We propose that human-animal and adult-child co-sleeping should be approached as legitimate and socially relevant forms of co-sleeping,” says Smith, who believes that more research should be done on human-animal co-sleeping practices. “Moreover, a comprehensive understanding of human-animal co-sleeping has significant implications for human sleep, human-animal relations, and animal welfare.”

Reference: Smith, Bradley P. et al. (2017). A Multispecies Approach to Co-Sleeping: Integrating Human-Animal Co-Sleeping Practices into Our Understanding of Human Sleep, Human Nature, DOI: 10.1007/s12110-017-9290-2

Source:  Springer publishing media statement

Sleeping patterns of dogs

This infographic, with information sources referenced at the bottom, shows some interesting facts about our dogs and their patterns of sleep.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie Infographic

Are pets in the bedroom a problem?

If you listen to most dog trainers, they will tell you never to let your dog sleep with you. In my experience, this isn’t a problem with a large number of dogs and their owners (myself included).

Now, new sleep research shows that many people who sleep with their pets report they feel safer and more secure knowing their pet is there with them.  Contrary to traditional advice, they sleep better because of it.

Dog and man sleeping together

The researchers, based at the Center of Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, asked 150 people lots of questions about their sleep habits. 49% of the group owned pets and more than half of them slept with their pets.

In the discussion section of their published paper, the research team states:

Many pet owners view companion animals as family members that they wish to incorporate into as many aspects of their life as possible.  Because humans spend considerable time sleeping, a pet owner’s desire to have animals close at night is understandable. As more households include multiple pets, the challenge of securing appropriate sleeping arrangements is increased.

and

Some participants in this study identified advantages to having a companion animal in the bedroom or even on the bed. Some respondents described feeling secure, content, and relaxed when their pet slept nearby. This appears to be especially true for single sleepers. The value of these experiences, although poorly understood, cannot be dismissed because sleep is dependent on a state of physical and mental relaxation.

This study is a small one, but the significance of the figures shouldn’t be dismissed.  The research team concludes:

More respondents perceived their pets to not affect or even benefit rather than hinder their sleep. A smaller percentage of patients acknowledged that their pets had undesirable effects on their sleep. Health care professionals working with patients with sleep concerns should inquire about the home sleep environment, and companion animals specifically, to help them find solutions and optimize their sleep.

Source:  Mayo Clinic Proceedings – read the full research paper here

Does your dog disturb your sleep?

Daisy bed photo

While countless pet owners peacefully sleep with a warm pet nearby, a new Mayo Clinic study, presented this week at the 29th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, finds an increase in the number of people experiencing sleep disturbances because of their pets.

A previous Mayo Clinic study published in 2002 reported that of patients who visited the clinic’s sleep center and owned pets, only one percent reported any inconvenience from their pets at night. The new study shows a larger number of patients — 10 percent in 2013 — reported annoyance that their pets sometimes disturbed their sleep.

“The study determined that while the majority of patients did not view their pets intolerably disturbing their sleep, a higher percentage of patients experienced irritation — this may be related to the larger number of households with multiple pets,” says Lois Krahn, M.D., Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and author of the study. “When people have these kinds of sleep problems, sleep specialists should ask about companion animals and help patients think about ways to optimize their sleep.”

Between August and December 2013, 110 consecutive patients at the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Arizona provided information about pets at night as part of a comprehensive sleep questionnaire. Questions covered the type and number of pets, where the animals slept, any notable behaviors and whether the patient was disturbed. The survey showed that 46 percent of the patients had pets and 42 percent of those had more than one pet. The most popular pets were dogs, cats and birds.

The disturbances by pets that patients reported included snoring, whimpering, wandering, the need to “go outside” and medical needs.

Source:  Newswise press release