Although owning pets can offer many health benefits, one study suggests it may have a negative impact on sleep. According to the study published in the journal Human-Animal Interactions, owning a dog may be linked with sleep disorders.
Owning a dog may be linked with sleep disorders
Despite the findings, the study’s researchers reference prior data and the association between sleep quality and pet ownership. They emphasize that data suggests pet ownership may have a positive impact on the owner’s sleep quality. This may be due to the social support that pets offer. Because pets offer a “sense of security and companionship, there may be a link to improvements in depression, anxiety, and overall stress.”
Although the research group references these positive health benefits, the purpose of the study is to “determine if there is an association between dog and cat ownership and sleep quality and sleep disorders.” The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Sleep quality was measured by “bouts of snoring or snorting at night; being diagnosed with a sleep disorder; having trouble sleeping or falling asleep; waking up during the night; waking up too early; feeling unrested; not getting enough sleep; needing medication to sleep; or having leg jerks or cramps,” NBC News reported. Additionally, getting less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis or taking longer than 15 minutes to fall asleep were also indicators of poor sleep health.
Data indicates link between dog or cat ownership and poor sleep health
Data from the study suggested owning a dog may be linked with a greater chance of having a sleep disorder. Alternatively, owning a cat was associated with leg jerks.
The study’s lead author, Lauren Wisnieski, is an assistant professor of public health and research at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. She noted that the study did not indicate where the pet slept and should be addressed in future studies.
In another unrelated study, sleep researcher Lieve van Egmond studied the relationship between pets and sleep quality. Published in 2021, the study found a link between the length of sleep and owning a cat. Having a dog, however, was not linked to any sleep changes. Factors including age and number of pets owned could also influence the correlation between having pets and sleep quality.
Looking for ways to help your dog (and yourself) sleep through the night? You can find helpful tips here.