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Sleeping with a pet isn't likely to disturb kids' quality of rest, study finds

Experts say kids’ sleep can actually improve when they’re with their pets each night

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Photo (c) gollykim - Getty Images
It’s been well documented that pets can play a significant role in improving consumers’ mental health and stress. Now, a new study conducted by researchers from Concordia University explored how kids are affected when their pets sleep with them. 

Though many consumers believe a pet could be detrimental to kids’ sleep quality and lead to all kinds of issues, the study findings show that the opposite is actually true: many kids sleep better when they’re with their pets

“Co-sleeping with a pet is something many children are doing, and we don’t know how it influences their sleep,” said researcher Hillary Rowe. “So, from a sleep science perspective, we felt this was something important we should look into.” 

Kids can benefit when sleeping with pets

The researchers had roughly 200 children between the ages of 11 and 17 enrolled in the Candian Institute of Health Research’s Healthy Heart Project involved in the study. 

There were three primary points of data collection for the study: the children wore wrist monitors for two weeks that measured their sleep quality; the children and their parents responded to questionnaires about their sleeping habits; and the researchers measured the children’s brain waves while sleeping for one night of the study. Based on the responses to the questionnaires, children were put into one of three groups based on the frequency with which they slept with their pets: sometimes, frequently, or never. 

The researchers learned that more than 30% of the children reported sharing their beds with their pets. While this was shocking to the team, it produced no adverse effects on the children’s overall sleep quality. Nearly 35% reported frequently or sometimes sleeping with their pets, and it ultimately boosted sleeping outcomes. 

Compared to children who didn’t sleep with their pets, those who did had similar or better results in each of the key areas -- sleep duration, disruptions, latency, and overall quality. Though the team plans to do more work in this area, it’s important to understand the peace and comfort that young people get from sleeping with their pets. 

“Sleeping with your pet does not appear to be disruptive,” said Rowe. “In fact, children who frequently slept with their pet endorsed having higher sleep quality.” 

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