There is no doubt about it: Pets are good for you. But your best friend could give you a “ruff” night’s sleep. People who sleep with their pets, especially if it’s a dog, are more likely to experience poorer sleep compared to those who are in bed without their four-legged friends beside them.
A recent survey found that one-third (33 percent) of pet-owning Americans experience disrupted sleep thanks to their pets. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) Survey indicates this is especially true for Gen Z’ers (42 percent) and millennials (39 percent) who said their sleep was “always or often disrupted” by their pets.
Regardless of whether you fancy a dog or cat, they’re both ZZZ-disturbers. An earlier study found that a dog in the bed is more likely to be associated with sleep disorders and general trouble falling asleep, while cat owners are more likely to experience leg jerks. Researchers believe the difference may be that cats tend to be more active at night.
Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every morning and night, even on weekends; and factor in your pet’s routines, such as when they need to eat and go out.
Regularly getting a good night’s sleep improves your brain performance, mood and health. Having a pet can do this, too, but if you don’t regularly get enough sleep, your risk of a number of diseases and disorders, from heart disease and stroke to obesity and dementia, goes up.
The AASM recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. If your pet is making it “im-paws-ible” to sleep at night, AASM offers the following tips to improve your sleep routine and achieve healthy sleep:
- Create your pet’s own space: If sharing the bed with your pet is keeping you up at night, create a separate, comfortable place for your pet to sleep.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every morning and night, even on weekends; and factor in your pet’s routines, such as when they need to eat and go out.
- Follow a relaxing nighttime routine: To help you wind down at the end of the day, consider developing a relaxing nighttime routine, which might include a warm bath or shower, reading or journaling.
- Create a peaceful environment: Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool and use your bed only for sleeping and sex — not watching TV or reading.
The AASM Sleep Prioritization Survey/2023 can be found here.