If you suffer from chronic pain, the solution to your woes may be wagging its tail at your feet.
A study conducted by the University of Alberta indicates that dog owners have an advantage when it comes to combatting chronic pain, and sleeping with those animals provides “overwhelmingly positive” results.
“When you ask people to remove an animal they are in the habit of co-sleeping with, it could have consequences the health-care provider hasn’t considered,” writes Cary Brown of UA’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. “For some people with chronic pain, their relationship with their pet could be the only one they have and the comfort that dog or cat produces would be lost. It’s equivalent to kicking their partner out of bed.”
Many more participants in the study reported feeling better, both physically and mentally, when their dogs slept with them than did not.
“They liked the physical contact with their dogs—cuddling before bed, and how it distracted them from feeling anxious about being alone at night,” Brown continues. “They felt more relaxed and safer so they weren’t anxious as they were trying to sleep.”
Loneliness is a common emotional side-effect of those suffering from chronic pain tend to experience, Sue Falkner-Wood reports in Everyday Health. And, “being lonely can hurt,” she says.
“It’s bad enough to have the physical pain of a condition 24/7, but the alteration of life style really can suck,” Falkner-Wood writes. “Dinners missed, social events unattended, reunions totally out of the question, are just a few of the occasions I’m referring to. We also face the isolation which is brought on by individuals who just don’t get it. They think we should “buck up,” “just come anyway,” and get over ourselves. If only we could. I’m doing the best that I can, how about you?”
Brown maintains that sleeping with a dog helps diminish that feeling and, “release positive hormones in our bodies that will help us sleep better.”
Owning a pet also promotes healthy habits, like a regular bedtime, physical activity, and responsibility.
“Those are two key things for sleep—you get up at the same time every day and you are active. If you take the pet out of the equation, you lose that,” Brown said.
They may tend to hog the bed, but when it comes to the benefits of sleeping with a dog, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
In short, there’s no reason to kick your pup out of bed, unless they’re causing a nuisance…
“We shouldn’t jump to simplistic thinking, that getting rid of the pet will make everything fine,” Brown said. “We need to think more carefully about helping the patient weigh the pros and cons and make that decision for themselves, instead of being told. They shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about prioritizing a pet relationship over the professional advice they’ve been given.”
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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