Starting from August 1, 2014, a total of 150 patients from the multidisciplinary Center for Sleep Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Arizona, completed a questionnaire regarding their sleeping habits. This is how researchers discovered that people who sleep with their pets are happier.
One of the sections of the questionnaire asked about the number, the type and the sleeping behaviour of pets. Additional information was collected in a face to face interview, where researchers asked the patients about the connection between the pet’s and the owner’s sleep, to see if the patient’s sleep was affected by the pet.
Of the 150 participants in the study, there were 82 men (58 percent) and 68 women (42 percent). 18 percent (28 persons) of them did not have any bed partner. Seventy four (49 percent) of them had pets, with 31 of those (42 percent) having more than one pet, some of them reporting up to seven pets.
From the total number of pets, 56 percent were sleeping in the same bedroom or even the same bed as their owner. Of the seventy four pet owners, 15 reported sleep disturbances caused by their pets. Among the disturbing behaviors of animals, owners reported snoring, wandering, voiding needs, whimpering and even seizures.
Thirty one of the owners (41 percent) responded that sleeping in the same room with their pet was not at all disturbing or were even describing it as beneficial, providing security, relaxation or companionship. Respondents sleeping alone claimed that the presence of their pet in the bedroom or even in their bed helped their sleep.
Many pet owners described their pets as family members and they wanted to integrate them in as many aspects of their life as possible and sleeping was considered to be one of them.
According to the researchers pet dogs are more likely to adopt a sleeping behavior consistent with that of their owner, being more dependent on humans. On the other side, dogs can also be disruptive by barking or snoring. Scientists recommend that disruptive dogs should not be allowed to sleep on the bed, since they might affect the sleeping quality of their owner.
Cats on the others side tend to change their position many times during the night. It is very rare when a cat sleeps the whole night in the same place. Even if they can also be disruptive, they are also harder to be taught not to sleep on the bed.
As a conclusion of their study, authors argue that the study might have been biased by the loyalty of the owners towards their pets. If all the owners were more than happy to provide information about the improvements brought by their animals to the quality of their life, they all seemed more reluctant to disclose the negative parts.
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