Does that cat curled up next to you in bed help soothe you to sleep or interfere with your rest? While pet owners like to complain that their cats and dogs take over the bed, your pets may be helping you sleep more soundly by providing cuddly comfort.
A recent survey carried out by the Center of Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona indicates that people who share their bedroom or bed with pets report feeling safer and more relaxed. The researchers questioned 150 study participants – 56 percent of whom had pets. Of those, 41 percent said that having an animal in bed helped them sleep better or did not interfere with their sleep. Only 20 percent said that their cat or dog disturbed their rest by snoring, whimpering or having seizures.
This study seems to contradict previous studies by the same clinic that indicated that pets are more likely to interfere with a good night’s rest. Last year, the Mayo Clinic reported half of the patients that had consultations at its sleep clinic were pet owners who complained about being woken up by their dogs or cats in the middle of the night.
Among recent study participants, those who said they felt safe and secure with a cat or dog in their bed included people who were single or whose partner was sometimes absent. Many pet owners said they consider their cats and dogs as family members that “they wish to incorporate into as many aspects of their life as possible,” according to the authors of the study. One 64-year-old woman commented that she felt more content when her small dog slept under the covers near her feet. Another woman, who was married, described her cat sleeping on her chest as “soothing.”
A report on the study in iflscience.com made this observation: “Despite the fact that your cat has the personality of a tiny lion and essentially does not need you – and may even see you as a malfunctioning, lazy kitten—having one next to you as you fall into that inky pool of dreams may in fact do you a world of good.”