The Most Common Pet-Related Sleep Disturbances (and How to Deal with Them)

The Most Common Pet-Related Sleep Disturbances (and How to Deal with Them)

Nearly half of all pet owners sleep with their furry family member in the bedroom. A significant portion also allows their pets into the bed. But, could your pet be disturbing your sleep? Don’t worry if you can’t imagine sleeping without your favorite pet by your side. There are a few steps you can take to make sure both you and your pet get the rest you need.

Problem: Not Enough Room in the Bed

If you have a large pet, you’re well acquainted with this problem. Unfortunately, it’s not limited to large animals. A small dog or cat that’s active during the night can get you caught between the edge of the bed and twitching paws.

Solution: The easy solution would be to put a cushion on the floor rather than letting your pet in the bed. However, if you can’t imagine sleeping without your pet, create a designated space on your mattress for your pet. At the foot or side of the bed is best as it still allows you and your partner to be near each other while you sleep. If your pet gets out of his designated space, make sure to put him back every time. Pets that are used to free reign in your bed may have trouble at first but, with consistency, they can be trained to stay in their spot.

Problem: Snoring

Snoring isn’t just a people problem. Pets suffer from sleep apnea and other sleep disorders just like humans do. Certain breeds are more prone to snoring than others such as pugs or bulldogs with their short snouts.

Solution: A dog or cat that sleeps on his back may have blocked airways. If your pet falls into this category, give him a nudge onto his side. For those breeds that can’t help but snore, you might want to consider moving him out of the bedroom. You can’t change biology. Obesity can also cause your pet to snore as extra fat puts pressure on the airways. A controlled diet and extra exercise can help your pet lose and maintain a healthy weight and, hopefully, eliminate the snoring problem.

Problem: Allergies and Asthma

Allergies and asthma are a far bigger problem because of the danger they pose to you while you sleep. Severe allergy sufferers really shouldn’t have a pet in the bed as a reaction can close airways and cause at the very least night waking and at the most a dangerous allergic reaction.

Solution: Maybe you’re one of those people who can’t fall asleep without your pet by your side, allergies or not. If that’s the case, allergy shots can help build up your tolerance to pet dander. You should also use a HEPA filter in the bedroom to try to keep allergens out of the air.

Problem: Interrupted Sleep

You don’t have to be a light sleeper for your pet to wake you up during the night. Animals dream too and can often twitch in their sleep. Any movement may cause problems on a mattress with poor motion isolation like an innerspring. A jingling collar or barking dog may also wake you during the night.

Solution: If moving your pet out of bed isn’t an option, consider a change in the mattress. Foam mattresses, especially memory foam, isolate movement and may help everyone get better sleep.

Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub She specializes in sleep's role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat. 

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