If you’re wondering what One Health is or how pets improve your sleep, no fear! One Health is an approach that recognises that the health of people is closely connected to the health of the animals within their shared environments. However, despite the ‘One Health’ concept being used since as early as the 1800s, it is a relatively new term within popular culture.
How does this relate to pets improving our sleep?
Sleep, (however you achieve it) has hugely restorative properties we need to allow our bodies to heal and develop both physically as well as mentally. It is then vital that we optimise our quality of sleep by creating the right sleep environment.
Scientist and author Meg Olmert says:
“A cuddle with your pup triggers oxytocin release, helping you to bond with your pet and alleviate stress.”
Petting an animal is not only grounding for them it is also a great way for people to stress soothe too. With the interaction lowering blood pressure through the release of relaxation hormones such as cortisol and oxytocin. These ‘happy hormones’ are documented as just some of the mental health boosts associated with pet ownership.
In fact, people with companion pets often report a distinct drop in feelings of loneliness and depression; two key contributors for many suffering with insomnia. Also, a likely driver in the 2020, lockdown take up of pets amongst almost 50% of the UK population.
But let’s face it, having anyone in your bed can affect your quality of sleep! Other contributing factors, such as the number of people and pets, pet size, and bed size will also come into play when trying to orchestrate the perfect night’s snooze. For example, a small study of adults found that people slept just fine with a dog in their bedroom but less so when the dog was actually in their bed. A good solution to this might be to keep a pet bed beside your own. That way the bonding benefits of companion sleep are accomplished without the sacrifice of sleep quality for either party.
Did you know?
If your pet sleeps in the same room as you, you’re not alone. Nearly a quarter of UK pet owners admitted to always letting their pet sleep in bed with them, while two in five said they sometimes allow their furry friend to join them as a treat.
According to Dr. Johnson-Walker (a veterinary epidemiologist)
“More than 65 percent of U.S. households have at least one pet, and 30 percent of dog owners and 61 percent of cat owners in the U.S. and Australia report sleeping with their pets.”
Living and sleeping within close, proximity to animals has also been proven to help people suffering from sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea and nightmares, including those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Allowing your pet to sleep near to you not only strengthens your bond it can also make you smarter! Dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone, is a neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system. Amongst many other things Dopamine is associated with learning, memory, and motor system function.
Do your pets sleep close by to you? Why not share your questions and tips on companion sleep in our Facebook Community page. Or for some pet focussed zen time, why not check out our Bedtime Tail series.