If you own a dog, you already know that they are capable of giving you more love than you know what to do with. It seems like they spend their whole days waiting to make you smile, but according to new research, that’s not all they can do.
Sure, dogs make you happy, but a new study has found that dogs aren’t just good for your emotional health, they have been found to help with their owners physical health as well.
The study conducted at the University of Alberta was focused on how sleeping in a bed with a dog affects those suffering from chronic pain.
Anyone who suffers from any kind of chronic back, knee, neck, or really any kind of pain knows how detrimental it can be to your day. It really throws a wrench in any of your plans, and can even make it difficult to get out of bed.
But now researchers are saying that if you’re in pain all the time, sharing your bed with your canine companion might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Researcher Cary Brown from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine wanted to know how dogs are impacting people’s pain, as she noted that often people are told to get pets out of the bedroom when they are having sleep problems associated with pain.
Brown instead found that this advice was counterproductive, because according to her research, having a dog sleep in bed with you was “overwhelmingly positive” for those suffering from chronic pain.
“They liked the physical contact with their dogs—cuddling before bed, and how it distracted them from feeling anxious about being alone at night,” Brown’s study found. “They felt more relaxed and safer so they weren’t anxious as they were trying to sleep.”
This bond with your dog actually helps you fall asleep. “A sense of relaxation and caring are emotions that release positive hormones in our bodies that will help us sleep better.”
Not only do they help you fall asleep, but apparently when health care providers say that the animals have to get out of the bed, they are ignoring the benefits that the pet provides.
“When you ask people to remove an animal they are in the habit of co-sleeping with, it could have consequences the health-care provider hasn’t considered,” Brown said. “For some people with chronic pain, their relationship with their pet could be the only one they have and the comfort that dog or cat produces would be lost. It’s equivalent to kicking their partner out of bed.”
Not only do they help you feel like you’ve got someone there with you, it also helps you stick to a routine.
Anyone who has shared a bed with a dog knows that they tend to be creatures of routine, and apparently that is important when dealing with sleep schedules. “Two key things for sleep—you get up at the same time every day and you are active. If you take the pet out of the equation, you lose that,” Brown explained.
While the study was small, it does provide a look into how important the owner-pet relationship really is, and how sometimes it’s okay to do what makes you happy.
According to the study, there were a greater number of positive experiences for those sleeping with pets over negative ones, so maybe having your dog in bed with you isn’t so bad after all!