Canoodling with your furry friend must equate to having the best night's sleep, right? Unfortunately, the reality is quite sordid. A recent study found that those who sleep with a furry friend are likely to have fewer shut eyes.
Although pets offer their owners safety, security, and companionship, they might also stir them awake and interrupt their deep slumber. For example, those with cats are most likely to suffer changes to their circadian rhythm due to their cats being awake during dusk and dawn, as cats are often regarded as crepuscular animals.
According to the study's authors, Kayla Medlin and Laura Wisnieski, the study analyzed different variables that affect the quality of pet owners' sleep. "Snoring, snorting, sleep disorder diagnoses, trouble sleeping, trouble falling asleep, waking up during the night, waking up too early, and feeling unrested, among others, are things pet owners are most likely to be affected by.
On the plus side, pets can positively impact their owners' mental health. For example, dogs help release oxytocin, the love hormone. Petting dogs can also help remove the stress hormone cortisol and calm pet owners down.
These findings correlate with an increase in popular forms of therapy, such as Pet Therapy. This therapy focuses on keeping hospital patients happy, alert, and active. Pet therapy also lowers levels of anxiety in patients.
Pets are also said to increase overall activity levels and heart health. In addition, studies have shown pet owners are likely to have lower blood pressure and maintain a healthier weight than those with no pets, according to a health study published by Harvard Medical School.
The research is backed up by previous findings that the American Heart Association has stated, such as a lower decreased risk of heart disease. This is most likely due to pet owners walking or running with their dogs.
In the descriptive analysis of the study. It was found that dog owners had a higher prevalence of trouble sleeping, sleep disorders, sleep apnea, and feeling unrested and feeling sleepy, Cat's were more associated with having more leg jerks compared to those who are non-cat owners.
This may come as no surprise to pet owners. As giant breeds, dogs take up half of the bed, and cats may like to make late-night pounces. However, having a pet also takes an emotional toll on the body and health when the pet falls ill, another study in 2017 found.
"Essentially, it's the heavy emotional toll one can experience when the act of caring stretches a person's physical, emotional or even financial capacities to the breaking point," study author Mary Beth Spitznagel previously explained to CBS News.
The study by Medlin and Wisnieski confirmed some previous findings but still needs more research to ensure the overall negative impact on sleep quality.
"While the causal nature of pet ownership on sleep quality and sleep disorders was unable to be established, the results of the study are consistent with previous studies that found that pet ownership hurts sleep quality," the study noted, suggesting further research on where exactly people's pets sleep and the effect it has on sleep." Said an article on CBS News.
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