CBS Local — A new study is looking into one unpleasant way “man’s best friend” is just like their owners. Researchers in Hungary say dogs, like many humans, suffer from sleep problems following a stressful or emotional experience.
The experiment, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, recorded the brain waves of 16 adult dogs after experiencing either a positive or negative day. Positive days included being petted and playing fetch while the negative days included being separated from their owners or tied to a door for short periods of time.
The researchers found that after a three-hour nap, the dogs subjected to a stressful experience had a worse sleep. They spent an average of 20 more minutes in REM sleep, the active sleep stage characterized by vivid dreaming and an increased heart rate. The stressed out dogs also woke up more quickly than their relaxed counterparts.
One interesting side-effect of the dogs’ stressful day, the anxious pups actually fell asleep faster than the ones who had a pleasant day. The research team wrote that the symptom was likely a stress-induced condition that triggers a “protective sleep.” The scientists added that the behavior is also part of the human immune system’s response to sickness.
The study suggested that one bad night in your dog’s life won’t likely cause a major sleeping problem, but regular stressful experiences could lead to a sleep disorder for your four-legged friend.