If you're still scratching your head wondering why you're not feeling as refreshed as you should in the morning, you may have overlooked a little furry sleep thief: your pet.
I get asked about pets in the bedroom pretty frequently, and it can be a hard to hear that pets in the bedroom can be problematic for sleep. Pets are like family members, and we don't like to exclude them from snuggling with us when they show so much affection and beg to be with us at night. But they can be a major cause of poor and disrupted sleep.
Studies have demonstrated that a reasonable percentage of pet owners who allow their pets in bed have sleep problems. And if you think a cat is harmless, then look no further than a home video of what goes on in night when you think your furry friend acts like a stuffed animal. If only...
For starters, cats are nocturnal by nature. They typically won't snooze with you for 7 or 8 hours straight.
Dogs aren't quite so nocturnal, but because of their size, every time they move or begin to scratch and groom themselves they can wake the soundest sleeper. They can also snore as badly as a human -- ever listen to an Old English Bulldog?
How about a cat or dog bed? If you've already introduced your pet to your own bed, then it's going to be pretty hard to get it to use its own special bed -- no matter what the person at the pet store said or how fancy, fluffy, and "pet-friendly" the bed is. Fido and Tabby may turn their noses up at that and be in your bed faster than you can snap your fingers. To this end, let me offer some tips:
The good news is pets can't hold grudges the way humans can. So even though you may have to practice some tough love for a while, you won't risk losing your best friend.
Michael J. Breus, PhD, FAASM
The Sleep Doctor
Follow Dr. Michael J. Breus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thesleepdoctor