Dogs increase the risk of a sleep disorder — while cats increase the likelihood of leg twitching, research shows

Trouble sleeping? Your pet may be to blame! Dogs increase the risk of interrupted sleep — while cats increase the likelihood of leg jerks, research shows

  • While pets can provide a “sense of security,” they negatively impact sleep
  • The greatest sleep differences were seen between dog and non-dog owners
  • Snoring, abrupt awakening and need for sleeping pills were included

Your beloved pets could be responsible for more restless nights, leg twitches and even sleep disturbances, experts claim.

New research has found that dog owners are more likely to experience sleep disturbances than those without a pup, while cat owners experience more leg twitching throughout the night.

Snoring, waking up abruptly and needing sleeping pills were among the factors taken into account in the study by US scientists at Lincoln Memorial University.

While it was recognized that pets provide “a sense of security and companionship” that can relax owners, the results clearly showed that they worsened overall sleep quality.

While pets may provide a “sense of security,” scientists say they negatively impact overall sleep (stock image)

How your pet can disrupt your sleep


  • More trouble sleeping
  • Sleep disorders
  • sleep apnea
  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Need pills to sleep
  • Having leg shocks


  • snoring
  • Trouble falling asleep/sleeping
  • Leg jerks

Dr. Lauren Wisnieski, who led the study, said: ‘Previous studies on the link between pet ownership and sleep quality and sleep disturbances have produced mixed results.

“On the one hand, dogs and cats can be beneficial to an owner’s sleep quality because of the social support pets provide – pets provide a sense of security and companionship, which can lead to improvements in levels of anxiety, stress and depression.”

“On the other hand, pets can disturb their owners’ sleep.”

For analysis, the study was based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted in 2005-2006.

About 5,500 perspectives were examined, of which 51.7 percent were women and 48.3 percent were men.

The differences in sleep quality were found to be most drastic between dog owners and non-dog owners compared to cat and non-cat owners.

Overall, dog owners were found to have more trouble sleeping, sleep disturbances, sleep apnea, feeling restless, feeling drowsy, not getting enough sleep, needing pills to sleep, and having leg twitches compared to non-dog owners.

Meanwhile, cat owners were more likely to experience snoring, difficulty falling asleep/falling asleep, and leg twitching than non-cat owners.

Snoring, sudden awakenings and the need for sleeping pills were included in the study by scientists at Lincoln Memorial University in the US.

Snoring, sudden awakenings and the need for sleeping pills were included in the study by scientists at Lincoln Memorial University in the US.

Dr. Wisnieski suggested that this could be due to cats being more active at night, but the true cause was not determined.

She added: ‘If the causal relationship is established by further research, the results will have implications for clinicians’ recommendations for treating patients with poor sleep quality.

“In addition, educational resources could be developed to educate pet owners about the risks of sleep disturbances and suggest possible solutions, such as cratering the pet or restricting access to the bedroom at night.”

Despite its findings, the Mayo Clinic in Arizona previously found that allowing pets to rest in the bedroom with you can help sleep.

Study author Dr. Lois Krahn of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said: ‘We found that many people find comfort and a sense of security in sleeping with their pets.

“Today, many pet owners are away from their pets for much of the day, so they want to spend as much time as possible with them when they are home. Having them in the bedroom at night makes that easy.”

Tips for sleeping with your dog:

The Sleep Foundation has released a list of tips for sleeping with a dog for those who choose to do so.

They say it’s their personal decision whether someone shares a bed with a dog, but they should be aware of the pros and cons.

How to share a bed with your dog:

  • Use a mattress of the correct size – to avoid inconvenience, make sure your mattress is big enough for both you and your dog;
  • Wash sheets and bedding regularly – This good hygiene ensures that no unwanted germs enter the bed. If your pet spends time outside, it may also be worth wiping its paws to keep dirt and vermin out of the bedroom;
  • Keep track of vet visits – Keep your pet disease free to protect yourself. Make sure they have the necessary vaccinations;
  • Don’t let them lick your face – Licking on the face can be an important way in which potentially dangerous diseases are transmitted;
  • Walk your pet before going to bed – this is recommended as it gives the animal one last chance to use the bathroom and burn off excess energy. This prevents the risk of them defecating in the bedroom and can lead to less sleep disruptions;
  • Consistent bedtime – Just like humans, animals also have a circadian rhythm. Making sure you go to sleep and wake up at about the same time each day can help you and your pet stay in relatively similar sleep patterns and avoid restless nights.


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