Your Snuggly Pet Could Be to Blame For Chronic Bad Sleep


Pets affect sleep?

Had a ruff night’s sleep?

A new study published in the journal Human-Animal Interactions has shown that people with dogs are more likely to suffer from a sleep disorder. Cat ownership was also associated with sleep issues, but not to the extent that dog owners experience.

Researchers acknowledged that while pets may have a relaxing effect on their owners during the daytime, they were ultimately detrimental to overall sleep quality.

“On the one hand, dogs and cats may be beneficial for an owner’s quality of sleep due to the social support that pets provide,” said Dr. Lauren Wisnieski, who led the study, in a statement. “Pets offer a sense of security and companionship, which may result in improvements in levels of anxiety, stress and depression. Yet, on the other hand, pets may disrupt their owners’ sleep.”

Scientists from Lincoln Memorial University accounted for study participants’ sleep hygiene history, noting factors such as snoring, abrupt awakening, the need for sleeping pills, feeling unrested or sleepy, taking longer than 15 minutes to fall asleep and getting less than an average of six hours of sleep.


The scientists from Lincoln Memorial University took a variety of poor sleep factors into consideration.

Scientists from Lincoln Memorial University focused on pet ownership in the United States, looking at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005 to 2006.

Around 5,500 people were examined — 51.7% female and 48.3% male.

Compared to those without pets, dog owners were revealed to have more issues with sleeping, including sleep disorders, sleep apnea, feeling unrested or sleepy, needing pills to fall asleep, getting too little (less than six hours) sleep at night and leg twitching.

Meanwhile, cat ownership was more likely to bring on snoring, trouble falling and staying asleep and leg jerks.

The differences in sleep quality were more extreme between dog owners and non-dog owners compared to cat owners and non-cat owners, possibly due to cats being more active at night, researchers hypothesized.


Scientists acknowledged that while pets can relax their owners with a “sense of security and companionship,” they ultimately were detrimental to overall sleep quality.Getty Images
Wisniesky added that the link between sleep and keeping pets needs further research, which could inform how clinicians treat patients with low sleep quality and help experts develop educational resources on such health risks of pet ownership.

She said potential solutions include crating your pet or limiting its access to the bedroom at night.

“In the future, studies would benefit from measuring the human-animal bond, so that we can understand how the strength of [their relationship] affects quality of sleep,” Wisniesky said.


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