People love their pets! In fact, almost 65% of American households own a pet, with cats and dogs as the most common companions. And many of those pet owners opt to allow their pets to sleep in bed with them; but did you know that this habit can impact your sleep apnea? Keep reading to learn more from your community of sleep dentists about how sleeping with your pets, despite the apparent benefits, can sometimes negatively affect the quality of your rest—along with some things you can do about it.
The Advantages of Sleeping with Your Pet
Many pet owners allow their pets to sleep in their bedroom with them at night; and according to a study done by the Center for Sleep Medicine, 41% of owners claim that their pets aren’t disruptive at all! In fact, most owners claimed their pet offered security, companionship, relaxation, or warmth throughout the night. Though it’s important to note that not everyone surveyed allowed their pet to sleep in bed with them (sometimes a separate bed in the same room was used), and sleep efficiency can suffer somewhat if the bed is being shared. Simply put, quality sleep is dependent on a state of both physical and mental relaxation, and pets are sometimes a catalyst for this.
How Sleeping with Your Pet Can Impact Your Sleep Apnea
Even though there are noticeable advantages to sleeping with your pet, there are also discernable disadvantages; mainly, the impact on sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), one of the most common types of sleep apnea, is characterized by partial or full blockage of the airway during sleep. This is usually caused by the soft tissues of the throat and mouth closing; but pet dander, which is notorious for contributing to allergies, can also contribute to OSA! Your body has enough trouble breathing while you sleep if you suffer from sleep apnea, so adding pet hair into the equation will certainly make things worse.
How to Minimize Your Pet’s Impact on Your Sleep
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize your pet’s impact on your rest if you simply can’t fathom kicking them out of your bedroom! Consider the following:
- Create a comfortable spot for your pet to sleep that isn’t on your bed.
- Regularly clean your bedroom: vacuum your floors, dust, wipe down surfaces, and wash your bedsheets and pillows.
- Keep your pet bathed and properly groomed.
- Take medication for your allergies (if necessary).
- Seek sleep apnea treatment; sleep studies are non-invasive and can provide you with a diagnosis so you can seek treatment such as oral appliances or a CPAP machine.
For many people, sleeping with a furry friend is a source of comfort; but if it’s affecting the quality of your sleep, it might be time to do something about it. Luckily, there are plenty of measures you can take and treatments you can receive to reduce the impact of your sleep apnea and get back to bed.
About the Author
Dr. Kent Smith is the President of the American Sleep Breathing Academy and a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. He has been practicing in the DFW area for over 25 years and is honored to share his wealth of knowledge and experience with his peers. If you have any questions about sleep apnea or would like to contact Dr. Smith, he can be reached online or by phone at (817) 318-6352.