A Woman and Her Dog
A dog licks her owner's face during a dog exhibition in Ljubljana January 14, 2012. 1250 dogs from 31 countries participated in the exhibition. Reuters/Srdjan Zivulovic

The presence of a pet in the bedroom makes people sleep better, according to a new research from the Mayo Sleep Clinic. Individuals report feeling relaxed, content and secured when sleeping around a pet.

The researchers studied 150 participants, 74 of who reported owning at least one pet. Fifty-six percent of the pets slept in the bedroom or on the bed of their owners. Medical News Today reports that 41 percent of owners said their pets were not disruptive and even provided security, companionship or relaxation.

Owners described their pets as bed warmers and soothing presences. Few researchers have studied the benefits of sleeping beside a pet, hence the researchers said that the results should not be dismissed because sleep is dependent on a state of physical and mental relaxation.

According to the researchers, the study may help doctors answer patients’ sleep problems. Health care professionals must ask about patient’s sleep environment and presence of animals so techniques or strategies to optimise sleep will be realised.

"Many pet owners view companion animals as family members that they wish to incorporate into as many aspects of their life as possible," the authors said. "Because humans spend a considerable time sleeping, a pet owner's desire to have animals close at night is understandable. As more households include multiple pets, the challenge of securing appropriate sleeping arrangements is increased."

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) says that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Sixty-three percent of Australian households own pets and there are currently 33 million pets in the country. Thirty-nine percent of households own dogs, making them the most popular pets in the country. Cats come in second, with 29 percent of households owning them.

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