Co-Sleeping With An ESA
Emotional Support Animals are a great way to combat the symptoms of mental and psychological disorders. There are numerous accounts of people with anxiety or depression who have looked to the aid of ESAs in order to combat their disorders. But new research is starting to show another thing that Emotional Support Animals have a huge effect on: Sleeping.
In research surrounding sleeping disorders, a lot of researchers look at the reason causing the sleep disorders. In a recent study, the examination was more on the treatment of the disorders, which include obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), nightmares, narcolepsy, and parasomnias, among others. There main objective was to look at, not just co-sleeping, because that could happen with a partner, but co-sleeping with an animal, whether a service dog or ESA animal. Since emotional support animals do not require formal training, the researchers have much special interest in these cases.
Looking at the historical perspective, many sleep researchers will advise the idea of co-sleeping, whether it is with a human partner or animal counterpart. The reason for this is the partner may cause unwanted disruptions when trying to get back to a regular sleep cycle.
There is a movement to specifically train service animals, including emotional support animals, to sleep with their owners. Most of this training and research had not been documented or observed so there is not much data to draw from when the study was conducted.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder is only one that can be helped with the use of the CPAP machine, which allows for a continuous stream of oxygen flow for the user. In this case, service dogs can be trained for the sole purpose of alerting the user of the CPAP if a piece of the hardware is to slip out of place. WE could also imagine an instance where the sleeping with the animal actually allows the user to get a better sleep due to contact.
There are a lot of instances that can result in nightmares, including stress and anxiety disorders that happen in real life which carry over to humans when we go to sleep. We have seen that the use of animals is able to mitigate many symptoms of anxiety or stress, minor to major, including PTSD. If a person has an animal around, it may allow the person to diminish the amount of nightmares in a preventative manner.
Imagery Rehearsal Training is a popular way to combat nightmares from a scientific perspective. The idea is that a person is exposed to the frightening material, while being held in a safe and comforting zone, in order to diminish the effect of the imagery. If a person were to combine IRT with having an emotional support animal, it could be used to combat nightmares that may arise.
When focusing on nightmares in children, having an emotional support animal sleeping next to a child may involve the use of both these tactics, but with a bit more imaginative kick. Building off the child’s imagination, the child might be able to repurpose their ESA into a power image, such as something to fight or fly away from the nightmare. And, if there is a time in which the child awakes during this nightmare, the animal will be there immediately for comfort.
Narcolepsy is an interesting sleep disorder because its onset may cause immediate harm to the person experiencing it or the people around. Some service animals are being trained to recognize signs of impending attacks. Also, narcolepsy carries a social burden in which Emotional Service Animals may be able to fix.
In several sleep disorders, emotional support animals may come in handy to directly help or indirectly help the person experiencing the disorder. The biggest risk to the people is the upkeep of the animal which is negligible in concern for one’s health and well-being. Experimental research is still being conducted, but through behavioral observation, we see hope of emotional support animals helping people with sleep disorders.