What child doesn’t love to snuggle with their furry friend? Well, it turns out that not only is spooning their fur baby soothing, but it may also help children get better sleep at night.
And that’s not just anecdotal: in fact, there may be some science to back this claim up.
According to scientists from Concordia University, children see their pets as more than just animals, but more as close friends who they find comfort in when tucked in next to them in bed. And it’s not just small children who may benefit from the nighttime routine; even teenagers have been shown to fall asleep better when their pets are snuggled next to them.
The study, which is published in the journal Sleep Health, looked at nearly 200 children between the ages of 11 and 17 years and separated them into three groups based on how frequently they slept with their pets: often, sometimes, and never. Their brain waves, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, breathing, and eye and leg movements were measured for one night. The participants also wore a wrist tracker to follow their rest-activity cycles and sleep patterns every day for two weeks.
The researchers assessed sleep duration, the amount of time it took to fall asleep, nighttime disruptions, and overall sleep quality and found that all three groups had similar sleep experiences when they slept with their pets.
The study’s findings suggest that not only does the presence of a pet not hinder sleep from noises the pet makes or the amount of space they take up in bed, but that sleeping with a pet can help children experience much higher perceived sleep quality. These positive effects were particularly notable among the adolescent participants.
For many children, nighttime fears can get in the way of falling and staying asleep. But the researchers associated with the study suggest that the presence of a pet in bed can help alleviate these fears.
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