Pets and Sleep

Dogs on BedDog-tired. Cat nap. Early bird. What do these expressions have in common? We say we’re “dog-tired” when we’re simply exhausted. And cat naps might be the answer to make up lost sleep. With a good night’s rest, you might even become an early bird. But if your pet actually is a dog, or a cat, or even a bird, restful sleep can be hard to come by. Because these pets can make it hard for you to “sleep tight” each night.

Researchers with the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center surveyed 150 pet lovers—who mostly had cats, dogs and/or birds—about how well they sleep. Here’s what they found out:

  • 6 out of 10 people let their pets sleep in their bedroom at night.
  • Of those, about 6 out of ten also let their pet sleep … where? You guessed it….on their beds with them.
  • Cats were more likely to enjoy the comforts of both their owner’s bedroom and the bed, as well.

How might this bedtime situation affect the pet owner’s sleep? Another Mayo Clinic study found that 1 in 10 pet owners were annoyed by their pet’s behavior at night. There’s the whimpering, the “requests” to go outside, and daily greetings to the newspaper delivery boy—right from the bed, and right next to their owner’s ear! One patient in the study reported that her parrot had the habit of loudly welcoming the first rays of sunlight each morning! A cat or dog simply shifting around or hopping on and off the bed can also be disruptive. And we’ve all heard of—or experienced in person–a large dog that can actually push owners to a less comfortable place on the bed! Further, would you guess that 1 in 5 dogs snore at night?! About 7 percent of cats snore.

Despite these possible challenges, many people love to have their pet’s company at bedtime. And having early birds as pets, for example, isn’t a problem. We might even welcome our pet alarm clocks. And others can get enough rest no matter how active Fido and Kitty are. But if you find yourself falling asleep easily or often during the day, or your spouse is a little grouchy no matter how much sleep they get, a change in who-sleeps-where might be in order—for your pet, not you, of course!

I resolved my cats-on-the-bed challenge with a rather simple fix: I placed two soft towels, one for each of my rescue kitties, on a spot I don’t use on the bed. Luckily, they much prefer that to the comforter (and it captures their shedding fur in one easy-to-clean place.)

How about you? Do you or someone you know have a pet that causes issues with sleep? How have you resolved it? Or do you have the opposite response: you really love it when your pet is in your room at night, and even in your bed? Let us know.


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