That moment is not foreign to us. Most of us who have had pets know how our parents have, on one occasion or the other, refused to let us sleep with our cuties even if we told them we slept better that way.
They have cited reasons that include shedding, scratching and allergic reactions. The most common reason, though, has been sleep disruption.
Well, sorry mum and dad, but science begs to differ.
Researchers at the Pediatric Public Health Psychology Lab(PPHP) at Concordia found out after tracing several adorable sleeping patterns that being in bed with a pet while sleeping might just be what your kid needs to improve their sleep quality and feel safe! Surprised?
What was the purpose of this study?
The data used was, in fact, the part of a larger study called Healthy Heart Project which tried to find out links between childhood stress, sleep and circadian timing. The purpose of the larger project wasn’t directly to map data regarding sleeping with pets, but it worked!
How was the study performed?
Kids and their parents were asked questions about sleeping routine, sleep hygiene, pre-bed rituals, sleep areas and bedtime consistency.
For 14 days, children were made to wear wearable sleep trackers that could help track sleep quality and length, and this data was then filled into daily logs.
Then, for a night, the kids were fitted with a device that could help detect their brain waves while they slept.
Do you sleep with a pet?
A regular sleep hygiene question that was asked was if the child slept with a pet. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, seeing as kids and pets sleeping together is traditionally frowned upon, 1 of every 3 kids answered in the affirmative.
Researches tried to look up any studies that had been performed on the sleep quality of children sleeping with pets. Unfortunately, close to none.
The co-sleeper kids were then put into three groups.
- Sleeping with pet on occasion
- Sleeping with pet sometimes
- Sleeping with pet regularly.
The Healthy Heart Project allowed the scientists to track not only their sleep lengths but also sleep quality, disruptions and the amount of time it took them to fall asleep.
The result? Now we know how to sleep better;
Researchers had expected, owing to the popular convention, that the sleep disruption frequency in children who slept with pets would be higher than the ones who didn’t. However, the results were surprising.
The conclusion is a fun fact for kids: not only was the sleep disruption frequency of co-sleeping groups no higher than the same frequency of other groups – the children who slept with pets actually showed a better sleep quality. Adolescents, especially, manifested highest perceived sleep quality when sleeping with pets.
The hypothesis now is that children and the youth regard pets as their friends, so co-sleeping makes them feel comfortable and safe. This can be understood in the same way as sleeping with a partner. We are able to seek comfort from having a co-sleeper, and who is a better sleep partner than your own cuddly pet?
If your pet isn’t particularly violent and your kid allergic to it or its sheds, we highly recommend tucking in your kid and your pet in the same bed!
You now know how to sleep better. Are you going to perform a self-experiment?
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