Dogs increase risk of sleep disorder, while cats increase chance of leg twitches, study finds

Are you trying to sleep? Your PET may be to blame! Dogs increase risk of interrupted sleep, while cats increase chance of leg twitching, study finds

  • While pets can provide a “sense of security,” they have a negative effect on sleep.
  • The greatest differences in sleep were observed between dog owners and non-dog owners.
  • Snoring, sudden awakening, and need for sleeping pills were taken into account.

Experts say your beloved pets may be to blame for more restless nights, leg twitches, and even sleep disturbances.

A new study has found that dog owners are more prone to sleep disturbances than those without a puppy, while cat owners are more likely to twitch their legs during the night.

Snoring, sudden awakening and the need for sleeping pills were among the factors examined in a study by American scientists from Lincoln Memorial University.

While it was recognized that pets provided a “safety and camaraderie” that could be relaxing for owners, the results clearly showed that they worsened the quality of sleep overall.

While pets can provide a 'feeling of safety', scientists say they have a negative effect on sleep in general (file image)

While pets can provide a ‘feeling of safety’, scientists say they have a negative effect on sleep in general (file image)

How your pet can disturb your sleep


  • More sleep problems
  • Sleep disorders
  • sleep apnea
  • Feeling restless
  • Sleepy
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Need sleep pills
  • Having jerky legs


  • Snore
  • Sleep/sleep problems
  • leg snatches

Dr. Lauren Wisniski, who led the study, said: “Previous studies on the relationship between pet ownership, sleep quality and sleep disturbances have yielded mixed results.

On the one hand, dogs and cats can be beneficial to the owner’s sleep quality due to the social support that pets provide – pets provide a sense of security and camaraderie, which can lead to reduced levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.

“But on the other hand, pets can disturb their owners’ sleep.”

For its analysis, the study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES), conducted in 2005–2006.

Approximately 5,500 potential clients were considered, 51.7 percent of whom were women and 48.3 percent men.

Differences in sleep quality were shown to be most dramatic between dog and non-dog owners compared to cat and non-cat owners.

Overall, dog owners have been shown to have more problems with sleep, sleep disorders, sleep apnea, feelings of restlessness, drowsiness, lack of sleep, need for sleep pills, and leg twitches compared to non-dog owners.

Meanwhile, cat owners were more likely to snore, have trouble falling/sleeping, and twitch their legs compared to non-cat owners.

Snoring, sudden awakening and the need for sleeping pills were taken into account in a study conducted by scientists at Lincoln Memorial University in the USA.

Snoring, sudden awakening and the need for sleeping pills were taken into account in a study conducted by scientists at Lincoln Memorial University in the USA.

Dr. Wisnisky speculated that this might be because cats are more active at night, but the true reason has never been determined.

She added: “If a causal relationship is established through further investigation, the results will have implications for clinical guidelines for the treatment of patients with poor sleep quality.”

“Furthermore, educational resources can be developed to educate pet owners about the risks of disturbed sleep and suggest potential solutions, such as caged pets or restricting access to the bedroom at night.”

Despite their findings, the Mayo Clinic in Arizona previously found that allowing pets to rest with you in the bedroom can help you fall asleep.

Study author Dr. Lois Crane of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona said: “We found that many people find comfort and a sense of security in sleeping with their pets.

Today, many pet owners spend most of the day away from their pets, so they want to spend as much time with them as possible when they are at home. Having them in the bedroom at night is an easy way to do it.”

Tips for sleeping with your dog:

The Sleep Foundation has published a list of dog sleep tips for those who choose to do so.

They say whether someone gets into bed with a dog is their personal decision, but they need to know the pros and cons.

How to share a bed with a dog:

  • Use the right size mattress – to avoid worries, make sure your mattress is large enough for both you and your dog;
  • Wash sheets and linens regularly – This good hygiene will help make sure your bed is free of unwanted germs. If your pet spends time outdoors, it may be worth wiping its paws to keep dirt and pests out of the bedroom;
  • Be aware of vet visits – Keep your pet free from diseases to protect yourself. Make sure they have the required vaccinations;
  • Don’t let them lick your face – Licking the face can be a major route of transmission of potentially dangerous diseases;
  • Walk your pet before bed – this is recommended as it gives the animal one last chance to use the toilet and burn off excess energy. This avoids the risk of them defecating in the bedroom and may result in less sleep. failures;
  • Constant sleep time – Just like humans, animals also have a circadian rhythm. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day can help you and your pet stay on a relatively similar sleep pattern and avoid restless nights.