Natural Science: Pets in bed may mean better sleep

23 November 2015 - 02:09 By Reuters

There are many potential health benefits to pet ownership, but a good night's sleep might not necessarily be one of them, a study suggests, although most of the respondents said their animals helped them to sleep better. Among pet owners surveyed at a sleep clinic, more than half said their non-human friends slept in their bedroom.One in five pet owners described their animals as disruptive, but two in five perceived the pets as unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep, the survey found.To see how pets might influence sleep, the researchers surveyed 150 people treated at the Centre for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, asking about pets and other environmental factors. Almost half the participants, 74 people, had pets, and 31 pet owners had multiple animals in their homes.Fifteen people reported pet-related sleep disturbances in the bedroom. Problematic animal behaviours included wandering, snoring, voiding needs, whimpering and seizures. But 31 people described the animals as beneficial in the bedroom, whether they provided comfort and companionship or served as bed warmers.People sleeping alone, whether they were single or had a partner who wasn't always there at night, more often spoke of pets as beneficial evening companions.Beyond sleep concerns, it's possible pets - especially dogs - can offer health benefits by encouraging people to get more exercise, noted Bruno Chomel, a veterinary medicine researcher at the University of California. The downsides, other than sleep disruption, might be the potential for pets to transmit diseases to their owners, Chomel said...

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