Kids might be onto something when they curl up with their furry companion at night.
According to a recent study, it might actually benefit your child’s sleep habits if you switch out Teddy for Rover. The study, from Montreal’s Concordia University, observed 188 children aged 11 to 17 and found that those who slept with their pets had better quality rest.
While this may not be news to those who’d already figured out this sleep hack, up to half of kids who live with a pet “regularly share their bed” with them. Naturally, many parents might feel that having a pet in the bed disturbs their child’s sleep, but the study found that the exact opposite is true.
Sleeping with pets isn’t as intrusive as you may think
To better understand how their furry friends helped lull them to sleep, researchers observed kids while they were asleep with their pets, noting their brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing, leg and eye movements. In the end, researchers concluded that their sleep profiles were similar to kids who didn’t sleep with pets at all.
“Altogether, these preliminary results suggest bed-sharing with pets may not adversely affect sleep of children and adolescents,” they wrote, also adding that pets are less intrusive to kids who have more space in their beds.
Kids’ sleep quality is tied to their relationship with their pet
Kids tend to see their pets as a “close friend,” and having them around may ease any nighttime fears. Of course, this all depends on the child’s relationship to the animal. “It is possible the practice may be positive or negative depending on strength of attachment to the pet, presence of anxiety or sleep problems, consistency of sleep routine, or pet characteristics,” the study says.
Even with adults, pet studies consistently find health benefits for their owners, including reduced stressed and even better heart functioning. So if you feel guilty every time you let your pet snuggle up with your little one, rest easy. Their snuggle session may be better for them than you think!