Having a Pet Can Really Mess with Your Sleep, Study Finds

Pet owners have dealt with it all while trying to snooze: a cat pawing your face until you feed her, a 15-pound dog somehow taking up the entire bed, a cat dedicated to his 3 a.m. laps and utter destruction, and other bedtime shenanigans. With that in mind, the findings of a new study may not be all that surprising.

Research recently published in the journal Human-Animal Interactions investigated the shuteye quality of pet parents, and the findings aren’t the best. Both dog and cat owners were found to experience sleep disturbances, though each species brought different issues.


The study authors – from Lincoln Memorial University’s Richard A. Gillespie College of Veterinary Medicine – write, “The results of this study are consistent with previous studies that found that pet ownership has a negative impact on sleep quality.”

The findings from this study were drawn from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2005–2006. Using different models with this data, the researchers investigated the link between dog and cat ownership and sleep outcomes. They focused on things like snoring, sleep disorder diagnoses, trouble sleeping or falling asleep, leg jerks and cramps, feeling sleepy, and getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night.


The team found that dog ownership was linked with a higher risk of having a sleep disorder or trouble sleeping, while cat owners had a higher prevalence of leg jerks. The researchers write that their study didn’t show that pet ownership caused these issues, but their findings could help in future trials for those with sleeping problems.

The findings could also resonate with a lot of people. A survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recently found that nearly half of pet owners sleep with their pets, with the habit more common among Gen Z respondents.


If you notice your sleep taking a hit due to this sleeping arrangement, AASM has a few tips: create a separate and comfortable sleeping space for your pet nearby as an alternative, keep a consistent sleep schedule that considers your pet’s feeding and exercise routine, make your bedroom quiet and relaxing, limit exposure to bright light in the evenings, don’t eat a large meal before bedtime, stick to an exercise routine and healthy diet, and turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

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