Sleeping with pets: Good or bad idea?

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — For many pet owners, bedtime means more time to spend with their furry friend. In fact, 56 percent of pet owners in a recent survey from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona admitted to sleeping with a cat or dog in the bedroom.

While sleeping with a pet can bring challenges, 41 percent of those pet owners responded that having the pet in the bed was unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep.

Dr. Ashok Modh, a sleep specialist in Tampa, sees both positive and negative effects from sleeping with pets. Often, one of the first questions he asks a patient who has trouble sleeping is if there is a pet in the bedroom.

“Any auditory stimulus or any noise, and the dog will sit up,” said Dr. Modh.

For a person who already has issues falling or staying asleep, a pet can make the issues worse since an animal’s sleep/wake cycle is much shorter than people’s.

“Their sleep cycles are about three hours at a time, so in three hours, they are awake, and they’ll move around,” explained Dr. Modh.

In his practice, he has found that removing a pet from the bedroom will help a patient with sleep issues feel more rested the next day.

On the flip side of the pillow, if a person sleeps through when the pet wakes up, Dr. Modh says a pet can put you at ease and make it easier to sleep.

“For companionship for some people, it’s a good idea. For security for some people, it’s a very good idea,” said Dr. Modh.

Dr. Modh has also seen that a pet in the bed can cause issues with partners who may not sleep as easily through the night because of the pet. Twenty percent of people in the original study did claim sleeping with a pet was disruptive to their sleep.

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