“Let sleeping dogs lie”, as the saying goes. Perhaps this should be everyparent’s attitude when a child snuggles up with the family pet come bedtime.

Up to half of children who have a pet in the home “regularly share their bed”with the animal, with many parents worrying this could disturb the youngster’ssleep.

Scientists from Concordia University in Montréal have now revealed the reversemay be true.

After analysing 188 people aged 11 to 17, the team found those who“frequently” slept with Rover, Felix or Thumper enjoyed a better “quality” ofrest.

With many children viewing their pet as a “close friend”, having the animal onhand could calm “nighttime fears”.

Having a pet is increasingly being linked to improved health outcomes, withowners experiencing reduced stress and even superior heart “functioning”.

Past studies suggest more than half of pet-owning adults share their bed withthe animal.

Although research was limited, sleeping with a pet was thought to be“detrimental” due to the animal’s “nocturnal activity, the noises they emit orby exacerbating respiratory problems”, the Concordia **** scientists wrote inthe journal Sleep Health.

Many pet owners find so-called co-sleeping “comforting and relaxing”, however.

To better understand how it affects young people specifically, the scientistssent sleep questionnaires to the pet-owning parents of the 188 children.

The youngsters also took part in a so-called polysomnography sleep study forone night, which measured their brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate,breathing, and eye and leg movements.

They also wore a wrist tracker that recorded their rest-activity cycles, alongwith keeping a daily sleep diary, for two weeks.

Nearly one in five (18.1%) of the children reported sleeping with their pet“frequently”.

Compared to those who “sometimes” or “never” snuggled up to the animal, thefrequent sleepers “had the highest overall subjective sleep quality”.

In general, the results suggest “children who reported sharing their beds withtheir pets had sleep profiles similar to those who did not”, wrote thescientists.

“Altogether, these preliminary results suggest bed-sharing with pets may notadversely affect sleep of children and adolescents.”

Co-sleeping adults may find their shut eye is more disrupted, however, due tothem being “generally larger and occupying more space than children”, as wellas many already sharing a bed with their partner.

“The presence of a pet may be less intrusive to children who are smaller andhave more space available in their beds,” wrote the scientists.

Snuggling up to a much-loved animal may also “reduce bedtime fears”.

“Children view their pets as close friends and seek comfort from them whentrying to sleep”, wrote the scientists.

They added, however, “it is possible the practice may be positive or negativedepending on strength of attachment to the pet, presence of anxiety or sleepproblems, consistency of sleep routine, or pet characteristics”.

Article: Yahoo News

Image: Bigstock

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