Is a snoring dog or yowling cat keeping you from getting enough shut-eye? You're not alone.
A Mayo Clinic study found that more than half of the patients seeking consultations at its sleep clinic are pet owners whose sleep is disturbed by their kitty and canine companions.
Forty-one percent of the sleep-deprived pet owners said the disturbances come from allowing their cats or dogs to share the bed, while 58 percent say the disruption comes from simply letting their pets sleep in the same room.
And snoring isn't just a people problem. The study found that 21 percent of sleep clinic patients had snoring dogs and 7 percent had snoring cats.
"I suspect that the degree of sleep disruption experienced may be significantly greater than we believe," Dr. John Shepard, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Mayo Clinic, told ABC News.
Disturbances during sleep can affect us both physically and mentally.
Sleep deprivation slows reaction times and causes difficulty with decision-making. It also contributes to automobile accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes a year are the result of driver fatigue, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths.
The average person typically needs about eight hours of sleep each night, but what's a pet-lover to do when their furry friend doesn't respect those hours of uninterrupted snoozing?
Animal behaviorist John C. Wright says the simplest solution is to train your pet to sleep in a different location.
You can also try to get to the root of the problem.
If your cat wakes you up because she's hungry, consider an automatic feeder. If your dog needs to be taken outside in the middle of the night, move up his feeding time and start letting the animal out earlier.
Wright says the most important thing to do though is to set a schedule and stick to it.
While it may be difficult to ignore those barks, whines and yowls, resist the urge to check on your furry friends, and eventually they'll learn that the behavior won't be rewarded.
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