How service dogs can help with sleep safety



Dogs can help with a number of sleep disorders

Dogs can help with a number of sleep disorders

Slumber Yard has shared how service dogs can help with sleep disorders. Team member, Mary Van Keuren, writes that even before the pandemic arrived and upended life across the globe, sleep disorders were on the rise in the U.S. COVID-19 didn’t help. In fact, researchers have coined the term “coronasomnia” to indicate the myriad sleep problems brought about by anxiety, depression, and stress over the challenges individuals face while COVID remains in our midst.

These challenges have been exacerbated by several factors such as lack of access to sleep therapy, loneliness, depression, PTSD, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and more. Many people turn to services animals for support, usually dogs.

The Human-Dog Bond
 
Experts state humans have bonded with dogs from 20,000-40,000 years. They served as hunters, guards, shepherds, and companions. There are approximately 500,000 are service dogs in the U.S. helping those with a variety of medical conditions. The Americans with Disabilities Act says, “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” Service dogs help with many kinds of disabilities, and therefore, are often trained to meet the needs of a specific individual.

The American Service Dog Access Coalition is an industry group that works with the military and canine training institutions to provide access to properly trained service animals. Note that emotional support animals and therapy dogs are not the same as service dogs, and they are not given the same protections by the ADA as service dogs, including the right to enter public facilities. 


Sleep Safety With Service Dogs

Those with PTSD, for example, may experience recurring dreams or nightmares that include aspects of past traumatic events, difficulty in falling asleep, and fragmented REM sleep. A trained service dog can remain alert to the signs of disturbed or fragmented sleep, such as tossing and turning or vocalizing and can then wake its owner and provide comfort and a sense of safety.

Sleep apnea is another condition that can merit the care of a service dog. This serious illness increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, diabetes, and more.

Sleep Disorders Service Dogs Can Assist With

Here are a few of the symptoms and illnesses a dog can help with:
  • Nightmares
  • Narcolepsy
  • Parasomnias
  • Sleepwalking 
As experts have suggested, many service dog owners sleep with their dogs either in their bed or in a pet bed next to theirs so that they can assist with nighttime challenges. Having your service dog in bed with you has many positives. If they are large, however, they may also take up a lot of your mattress’s real estate, making it difficult to get comfortable and sleep soundly. A pet bed can be another good choice. Also, be sure to keep your bedroom floor free of obstacles, be sure any plants are not harmful to dogs, and medications should be kept out of reach.

In conclusion, service dogs have proven effective in enabling people with formerly crippling disabilities to lead lives of normalcy. For those whose illnesses manifest during nighttime hours, service dogs are particularly helpful, soothing owners in the throes of a night terror, bringing medicines and other items, and alerting caregivers if their owner has a seizure. In effect, for a person with a disability, a service dog can be their best friend, with whom they have a strong and lasting bond.

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