A new Mayo Clinic study presented at the SLEEP meeting finds an increase in the number of people experiencing sleep disturbances because of their pets.
A previous Mayo Clinic study published in 2002 reported that of patients who visited the clinic’s sleep center and owned pets, only 1% reported any inconvenience from their pets at night. The new study shows a larger number of patients—10% in 2013—reported annoyance that their pets sometimes disturbed their sleep.
“The study determined that while the majority of patients did not view their pets intolerably disturbing their sleep, a higher percentage of patients experienced irritation—this may be related to the larger number of households with multiple pets,” says Lois Krahn, MD, Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and author of the study, in a release. “When people have these kinds of sleep problems, sleep specialists should ask about companion animals and help patients think about ways to optimize their sleep.”
Between August and December 2013, 110 consecutive patients at the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Arizona provided information about pets at night as part of a comprehensive sleep questionnaire. Questions covered the type and number of pets, where the animals slept, any notable behaviors, and whether the patient was disturbed. The survey showed that 46% of the patients had pets and 42% of those had more than one pet. The most popular pets were dogs, cats, and birds.
The disturbances by pets that patients reported included snoring, whimpering, wandering, the need to “go outside,” and medical needs.
“One patient owned a parrot who consistently squawked at 6 am,” Krahn says. “He must have thought he was a rooster.”