Having trouble sleeping? A new study suggests your pet may be the cause. Every night the family dog or cat curls up on someone's bed, right along with their owner, but what follows isn't always sweet dreams. Read on to learn how you and your pet can share the bed harmoniously.
The famous expression "he's in the dog house" uses pet as metaphor to illustrate that someone is sleeping on the couch tonight. In millions of homes, however, the idea of an owner encroaching on the pet's personal space is not really an issue. The opposite, in fact, is quite the norm. Every night the family dog or cat curls up on someone's bed, right along with their owner(s), regardless of whether or not anyone is in the proverbial doghouse.
What follows is either a cozy night blissfully communing, subconsciously, with your pet, or a series of interruptions that last all night, courtesy of your dog or cat. Perhaps you are woken up by a request for a bathroom trip outside, or a tail in your face. Perhaps two rambunctious cats spontaneously decide to race not-so-gracefully across your body. If you had reached a stage of deep sleep, it would certainly feel spontaneous to you, as you are jolted awake. Simple things like a snoring dog, or one engaged in compulsive paw-licking, could prevent you from falling asleep in the first place.
It is, therefore, no surprise that an article in ScienceDaily.com, a research news site, reports that a Mayo Clinic study done several years ago found that there was a link between sleeping problems and pets. According to Dr. John Shepard, Medical Director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center at the time of the study, the results showed that 22 percent of their sleeping disorder patients were likely have pets sleeping on the bed with them.
Author and trainer Kathy Diamond Davis offers a few sensible ground rules in her article for The Canine Behavior Series on VeterinaryPartner.com. The dog should be fully housetrained. Davis stresses that it is important to begin with a well-behaved dog. While sharing a bed will not necessarily create bad habits in a dog, a dog that already has some bad habits will not make for a good sleeping companion.
You do not want a dog in your bed who startles easily or wakes up defensively snapping. You, or your partner, do not want a territorial animal in bed who will growl or threaten anyone who tries to reclaim a pillow. Davis recommends establishing a "get off the bed" command so that you can have some privacy when your partner is very much not in the doghouse.
Anyone with a cat skipped the last sentence entirely. Commands? Training? These are foreign words. If you would like to know a command for getting a cat off the bed, so would a lot of other people. Now I have your attention, but only, unfortunately, to tell you what you already know - there is no such thing. If your cat is a nuisance at night, consider that he or she has already spent a sizeable portion of the day dozing.
By nighttime, a cat is ready for action, and you are a captive audience. If you can provide more stimulation during the day for your cat, and set aside some time in the early evening for play, this might increase the likelihood that you will all be on the same page at bedtime. The only key to privacy, and personal space in bed, however, for cat owners, is the door.
Jennifer Hoyden is a freelance writer with a diverse background that includes editorial, trade and advertising. She especially enjoys covering fashion and beauty, for humans and animals (separately). Jennifer is also a devoted dog-lover who can play well with cat people.
- Filed Under: Health & Home