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AUSTIN EDITION -- When Fido or Fluffy share your bed, sleep might suffer

By Renee Berg

rberg@postbulletin.com

Dog tired? The blame might lie with your pooch.

So reports Mayo Clinic, where a sleep disorder expert found that people with pets tend to have their zzz's disturbed by their animal's midnight rousings, feedings and, yes, snoring.

"People are willing to put up with some sleep disruption because they love their pets," said Dr. John Shepard, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center.

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Shepard started asking patients at the Sleep Disorders Center about their pets' sleeping habits after discovering that one woman regularly gets up to let her dog out, keeping her awake up to 20 minutes each night.

In an informal survey of patients at the center, Shepard found that 22 percent are likely to have pets sleeping in bed with them.

Of pet owners surveyed, 53 percent said their pet disrupted their sleep to some extent every night.

But did they care? No, Shepard found. And they weren't about to kick their dog or cat out of bed, either.

"They say it's not a problem, but there really is some disruption," he said.

Mary Poppenberg's canine pal, 4-year-old Henry, shares the bed with her.

She said Henry's midnight wanderings and bed hogging don't bother her. The dog gives her a sense of safety and comfort at night.

And snoring? The habit was reported in 21 percent of sleep disorder patients' dogs, and 7 percent of cats.

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Many patients said, however, that their spouse's snoring was worse.

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