The Price and Perks of a Furry Bedmate


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Could having your furry friend cuddled up next to you at night help you get a better night’s sleep? Some pet owners seem to think so, but medically speaking, the jury’s still out.

The Center of Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic recently ventured into the largely unresearched area of the effects of pets in the bedroom (or in the bed) on owners’ sleep quality. The small study surveyed 74 pet owners on whether or not their pets slept in the bedroom, and how they felt it affected their sleep. Perhaps surprisingly, given pets’ tendencies to move around and make noise during the night, 41 percent of the respondents perceived their pets’ presence as either unobtrusive or beneficial. One participant called her two dogs “bed warmers,” while another said her cat was “soothing.” However, several participants mentioned that their pets’ snoring, nighttime wandering and whimpering disturbed their sleep.

Given that sleep problems are a widespread issue, the effect pets have when they sleep on the bed or in the bedroom can’t be ignored. If more research confirms that furry sleepers do more harm than good, some dogs and cats may find themselves booted out of bed on doctor’s orders and in need of another cozy place to sleep.

While researchers say further study is needed to evaluate how pets affect human shut-eye at large, retailers can take their own poll to see if their customers are being woken up by a tail to the face or a midnight howl. A quick trip to a carefully arranged pet bed section could help keep customers happy and well-rested and ensure the animals are quiet and cozy, inside or outside the bedroom. 

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