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Have insomnia? Get yourself a dog!

We've all heard of service dogs before - and we mainly associate them with helping the blind. A report from the Columbia Missourian teaches us even more, though. Apparently, service dogs can also be trained to predict migraines and seizures, pull wheelchairs and load/unload your laundry!

When we got to the part about a service dog helping someone manage their insomnia, we were intrigued. Unfortunately, we were left a little disappointed - the dog doesn't really help the patient fall asleep, but rather he helps them wake up in the morning. This did get us thinking though - dogs (and other pets) are often reported to reduce stress, so we wonder if pet ownership can actually help relieve insomnia?

What do you think?

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Last updated: April 30, 2010

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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    April 8, 2018, 12:28 pm

    It may, but it would not be able to be a service dog under ADA standards. It has to be trained to perform a task to help someone manage a disability. Just being there and relieving stress does not qualify for all of the immunity a service dog has under ADA.

    I use a service dog for Insomnia secondary to PTSD. By the time I do fall asleep, if I don’t wake up due to a nightmare, I have difficulty waking up at all. The service dog does not actually help with the insomnia itself but insures I can wake up in time for work etc. and be more self reliant. My dog is trained to respond to a specific alarm by jumping on to the bed and harassing me until I get up. As a reward, my dog gets a treat when I get out of bed.

    Without the service dog, no amount of alarms will wake me up. It was actually my wife’s idea to train our dog because she was the one waking me up and whenever she would go out of town to visit family or I would travel for work I would end up oversleeping, sometimes by several hours. It was causing me work issues due to tardiness and bad reviews from my supervisors. The help of my service dog has helped me to live a more independent life, not needing to count on others to function normally. Again, the Service dog didn’t fix the insomnia issue and also doesn’t help with the problems associated with sleep deprivation, just made the overall issue more manageable. That’s what service dogs are for after all.

  • Vidrogio
    December 20, 2011, 4:44 am

    While my dog does not help me sleep (nor did the cat I had a few years ago), what they do help with is the depression that generally develops from a lack of sleep. When you are the only person in a household with insomnia, you tend to spend a large portion of time alone and that causes depression at least in me. It is nice to be able to have someone to talk to or to play with when there is nothing else to do. My dog will gladly get up and play until I get tired of playing with her, and then promptly drop back off to sleep. While this generally spawns jealousy from me, it none-the-less cheers me up. So, a cure for insomnia? Not really. But as a cure for insomnia inspired depression, my dog is a great help.

    • Martin Reed
      December 22, 2011, 6:06 am

      That’s a very good point – thanks for sharing.

  • Martin Reed
    January 5, 2011, 6:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing, dh. I recently got a couple of cats – they certainly don’t help me sleep!!

  • dh
    January 4, 2011, 8:56 pm

    I completely agree with the fact that they can cure insomnia. I had insomnia so bad and when I would finally fall asleep around 12PM i’d wake up around 4PM and just stay up until the next day at the same time. Since I’ve got a dog in the last month, it nearly instantly cured my sleeping habits.

  • Martin Reed
    January 8, 2010, 5:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing a rather more original perspective, ammeree! I’d agree with you, too – my parents have a dog; she’s wonderful but a lot of hard work! I’ll stick with cats for the time being, thank you!

  • ammeree
    January 6, 2010, 3:59 pm

    naa, ditch the dog idea to help insomnia, I have two and they only manage to get me stressed when i have to get up at 5am because they want to come in and be fed. Not a nice feeling when Ive been up till 3am, so if anyone wants a pair of white furry yuppy puppys send me a line.