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Just One Thing To Do This Week: Go To The Dogs

on September 23, 2017 - 6:13am

By MARY BETH MAASSEN
Los Alamos

I am always interested in reading, researching, and sharing ways to become healthier.

Sometimes, I even try to implement these healthy strategies into my own life, with varying degrees of success. When an email from Dr. Andrew Weil entitled “Dogs Can Help You Sleep” showed up in my inbox I was intrigued and skeptical. As a mom of three dogs I know they provide many benefits, however, contributing to a good night’s sleep is not one of them.

According to the study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, results showed that sleeping with a dog in the room did help some people sleep better.

“Most people assume having pets in the bedroom is a disruption. We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets,” said Lois Krahn, M.D., the author of the study.

I reviewed the study in which 40 adults wore activity trackers during their sleep cycle and I have decided it is little more than a conglomeration of anecdotal evidence. So, let me just include a little of my own first-hand, anecdotal experience.

If you have a hound dog, the kind with a penetrating, deep, throaty, prolonged bay (that many people find enthralling and entertaining for the first 20 seconds and then they are completely done with it and you really need to take your dog and leave), and you live somewhere coyotes howl on a nightly basis, you will never, ever, ever, ever, get another good night’s sleep.

If you have a well-hydrated dog, or a dog with kidney, bladder, or urinary issues, you will need to wake up repeatedly during the night to let them out to pee. Unfortunately if you leave the doggie door open to accommodate the late-night-pee-run the hound will escape and run off with the coyotes or a skunk will wander in looking to steal some dog food, and both of these scenarios are much worse than waking up to let your dog out. But sadly, this constant disruption will interfere with restful sleep.

If you have a dog that is all or part Labrador, Shepherd, Poodle, Rottweiler, Retriever, Terrier, or Hound, or has four paws, two ears, and tail, and it sleeps deeply and soundly through the night, it is because they are sharing a bed with their human. Usually, my dogs are attempting to “spoon” between me and my husband. After one gets comfortable he signals for others to join the party and there are three dogs, each weighing 60-70 pounds, wedging and wiggling their way into a comfortable position. They all sleep soundly through the night. We do not.

There are many wonderful reasons to share your life with a dog. They can be sweet, amusing, and entertaining. (I have heard of some dogs that can even be helpful around the house, but I do not have any first-hand experience to share regarding that aspect). The warmth of simply being near another soul that is happy to be in your presence can be remarkably calming and healing. Share your life with a dog, they say sleep is over-rated. I will let you know when I find out.


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