- A new study has found that people with pets may experience poorer sleep compared to non-pet owners.
- Having a dog was more likely to be associated with sleeping disorders and general trouble falling asleep, while cat owners were more likely to experience leg jerks.
- Researchers believe the difference may be because cats tend to be more active at night.
While Fido may bring a ton of joy and laughter to your life, a new study has found that people with pets may experience poorer sleep compared to non-pet owners. The study, which was published Thursday in the CABI journal Human-Animal Interactions, suggests that while there are numerous benefits to owning a pet, the type of pet you own could be impacting your sleep.
Having a dog was more likely to be associated with sleeping disorders and general trouble falling asleep, while cat owners were more likely to experience leg jerks. Researchers believe the difference may be that cats tend to be more active at night. But there were fewer differences in sleep quality indicators between cat and non-cat owners compared to dog and non-dog owners.
Previous studies regarding the association between pet ownership and sleep quality presented varied results. Researchers for this study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey that collects information on health and nutrition.
Sleep quality was measured using factors such as feeling unrested, feeling sleepy, not getting enough sleep, taking longer than 15 minutes to fall asleep, and getting less than six hours of sleep on average.
“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,” lead researcher Dr. Lauren Wisnieski, assistant professor of public health and research and affiliation at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, said in a press release about the study.
Wisnieski’s study also acknowledges there may be potential positive aspects of co-sleeping with a pet, but the NHANES study did not specify whether owners actually co-slept with their dogs or cats.
“If the causal relationship is established through further investigation, the results will have implications for clinician recommendations for treating patients with poor sleep quality,” she says. “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.”
Additional studies, she continues, would do well to measure the human-animal bond, “so that we can understand how the strength of it affects quality of sleep.”