Sleeping with Pets: Has the Quality of Your Sleep Gone to the Dogs?

Feeling tired, sapped of energy, and constantly ready to fall asleep? Are you irritable, unable to concentrate and have trouble completing simple tasks…but can’t figure out why? If you don’t have sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, your spouse doesn’t snore or there are no outside influences disrupting your sleep, then sleeping with pets could be responsible for poor quality sleep. There are dozens of reasons why pets are good for us, including emotional and psychological health. On the other hand, that same pet snuggled up against you in bed might be causing emotional and psychological disruption.

53% of Sleepless People Can’t Be Wrong

The buzz lately is about a Mayo Clinic Sleep Center study in which 300 participants were surveyed. One hundred fifty-seven of them owned pets and about 60 percent of them allowed their pets to sleep with them on the bed. Of those 60 percent, 53 percent said that their pets disrupted their sleep. Most pet owners were disturbed a few times each night, with only a handful stating their sleep was disturbed for more than 20 minutes every night.

How Fido and Fluffy Disrupt Your Sleep

Everybody thinks it’s adorable when their new puppy is napping on the living room rug, his little feet twitch, his ears flap and he begins to whuffle in his sleep. Everyone thinks it’s funny when their cat is asleep next to them on the couch and then screeches and jumps a few feet into the air. All of this is okay for daytime amusement, but what about nighttime? That’s not quite so amusing.

Scratching and digging at the places they can’t reach, noisily cleansing themselves and flapping their ears makes a lot of noise. Noises wake us up. Unfortunately, animals are usually nocturnal in nature because their ancestors hunted at night, which means they are genetically programed to fidget and fuss in the early hours of the morning. This means that if you’re napping next to your dog, you could be in for a restless night. 

What’s the Answer?

The easist solution is something pet owners might not want to hear: put the pets out of the bedroom at night. Though it might be hard to deny your furry friend access to your comfy pillows, when the benefit is a full night’s sleep, a clear and alert mind, a healthy body, and balanced emotions, it might be worth it. 

If you need to know how to do it without the destroyed house, yaps and hisses, then follow these tips from experts:

  • To teach the dog not to get onto the bed, gently push him off and tell him “no”
  • You might need to block him with a firm hand when he lifts his paws off the floor to jump
  • Make sure he has a doggie bed on the floor of another room that is large, soft and inviting
  • Lead the dog to his bed and treat him when he learns the command “go to your bed”
  • Give the dog treats when he learns to go to his bed without being led to it

Good sleep quality means so much to your mental acuity, emotional balance and psychological health. Of course you love your pets, and they return the favor by giving you unequalled love and support. But when they start encroaching on your sleep habits, it’s time to put them out of the bedroom. 

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Photo Credit: Kermit Newman on Twitter as @sleepdrCEO

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