HEADLINES Published November23, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

Are Your Pets Interfering with Your Sleep? Maybe.

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Sleeping with your pets may interfere with your sleep, or you may find it comforting.
(Photo : FPG, Getty Images)

Does having your pet in the bedroom with you help you sleep or interfere with it? A small study says that it could go either way.

Researchers at the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, decided to study the effects of having a pet or pets in the bedroom as you sleep, either on the bed with you or elsewhere in the room. They found that no one had researched the effects of pets on their owners' sleep before.

To see how pets might influence sleep, they surveyed 150 consecutive patients treated at the Center for Sleep Medicine and asked them about their pets and other environmental factors in the room in which they sleep. These were people who were being treated for sleep problems.

Almost half the participants, 74 people, said they had pets, and 31 of those had multiple animals in their homes. One man had a cat, four Chihuahuas, and a basset hound. One woman had two dogs and five cats. One woman had a parrot. More than half of the pets-58%-slept in the bedroom or on the bed.

Fifteen of the study participants said that they had experienced some sleep disturbances that were related to their pets. These disturbances included wandering, snoring, a need for the pet to go out, whimpering and seizures. The woman with the parrot said it squawked every day at 6 a.m.

On the other hand, 31 people that that their animals were beneficial to their sleep in that they provided comfort and companionship, helped keep them warm, or helped them relax.

People who slept alone, whether they were single or who had a partner who was not always there at night, often said that their pets were being beneficial to their sleep.

The study is limited by its small size and by the lack of data on whether patients being treated for sleep disorders experienced different challenges with a pet in the bedroom than people without sleep disorders. But the authors conclude that it would be worthwhile for doctors to discuss pets when patients bring up sleep problems.

The study was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. You can read the whole article here

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