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Owning a pet can lead to more restless nights

Owning a pet may lead to more restless nights, according to new research published in the CABI journal Human-Animal Interactions. The study is not the first to confirm that pet ownership can have a negative impact on sleep quality.

For the investigation, Dr. Lauren Wisnieski of Lincoln Memorial University analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which was conducted in 2005-2006.

The results showed that dogs are associated with a greater risk of sleep disorders, while cats are associated with a higher risk of leg jerks.

“Prior studies on the association between pet ownership and sleep quality and sleep disorders have varied results,” said Dr. Wisnieski. 

“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 – 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.”

“This cross-sectional study aimed to determine if there is an association between dog and cat ownership and sleep quality and sleep disorders – including consideration of aspects such as snoring, waking up during the night, needing pills to sleep and leg jerks.”

According to Dr. Wisnieski, the differences in the association of sleep quality and cat versus dog ownership may be because cats tend to be more active at night.

“If the causal relationship is established through further investigation, the results will have implications for clinician recommendations for treating patients with poor sleep quality.”

“Additionally, educational resources can be developed to inform pet owners about the risks of sleep disruptions and offer potential solutions, such as crating the pet or restricting access to the bedroom at night.”

Dr. Wisnieski said that future studies would benefit from measuring the human-animal bond, so that we can understand how the strength of it affects quality of sleep.

By Chrissy Sexton, Editor

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