Let sleeping dogs lie

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Should you let your pet share your blankets and your bed?  A recent Mayo Clinic study is challenging the conventional wisdom that animals in the bedroom can mess with your sleep. 
 
Patricia Sullivan had canine company in bed as soon as she brought home her first puppy. “He started to cry, and whimper and I felt sorry for him and I put him on my bed and he curled up in a ball and he was asleep and he’s been there ever since,” she says.
 
Sleep experts have long thought that pets in the bedroom are disruptive to a person’s sleep but a recent Mayo Clinic survey found 41 percent of sleep patients who share their beds with their animals find it beneficial.
 
Study author Dr. Lois Krahn says, “if having a pet nearby helps them feel relaxed and gives them a sense of security, which permits them to fall asleep with less difficulty, then I think that is something that does deserve attention. “
 
But 20 percent of people surveyed admitted their pets interrupted their sleep. Dr. Krahn, a sleep specialist  says there are many things pet owners need to consider.
 
“They need to know how well they sleep as a person and how well the pet sleeps, they need to take into account the size of the pet,” she explains.
 
Other considerations: the size of the bed, the number of pets and the pets must be clean and free of fleas. 
 
Patricia says her dogs don’t just relax her, they go a step further. “If I  stay up too late,  the dogs remind me to  go to bed. They actually walk into my bedroom, look at me like c’mon let’s go,” she says.
 
And even though their barking sometimes wakes her up, she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
The study did not look at whether different types of pets or different species were more disruptive than others. The study authors say they hope to focus future studies in those areas. 
 

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