Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 7, 2014

DICK WOLFSIE: Petting a sleep problem


Kokomo Tribune

---- — A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine says there is no connection between coronary heart disease and saturated fat. I always thought there was a link, like the one on my plate next to the eggs and hash browns.

Usually I get health information directly from either “Good Morning America” or USA Today. Relying too much on any one authority is risky. In the old days most of my medical knowledge came from either Ben Casey or Quincy. For you younger readers I’ll pause a moment while you check with Siri to see who these people are.

Mondays are a particularly good day to find new research in the media. Newspapers get the breaking, cutting-edge stories over the weekend because a scientist in Ontario, Canada, is late for his 5 p.m. curling match, so he just calls the paper and blurts out something like: Chocolate can reduce your blood pressure. Or: People who eat peanuts have fewer strokes. Well, that’s pretty much all it takes, and the next thing you know, there isn’t a Reese’s Cup between here and Lake County.

Last Monday on “Fox and Friends” the panel reported new findings that suggest getting up at 3 a.m. each morning for your work shift can have a detrimental effect on your brain. This explains a lot about the people hosting that program. Then over on “Morning Joe,” the talk fest on MSNBC, we learn that folks with sleep problems are the very same people who snooze with their pets curled up next to them on the bed.

Well, I was dumbstruck. I don’t want to hear anything negative about our dogs and cats. Why, it was just last Saturday night, after getting up at 2:30 in the morning to let Toby out and then again at 3 a.m. to let the cat in, that I reminded my wife how much we love our animals. “Imagine someone saying pets negatively affect our sleep habits.”

The scientist went on to say one reason your pets are antsy at night is because they sleep during the day. This Ph.D. suggests we find activities in the afternoon to keep our Dobermans, Labs and pit bulls intellectually stimulated so they don’t nap from noon until 10 p.m. I can’t even keep myself intellectually stimulated, so tell me how to make this work with a 13-year-old beagle and a lazy cat.

One suggestion was to feed the dog several times during the day so he would always be on alert for a treat, and would avoid napping and possibly missing a biscuit. My wife tried this method with me when I kept nodding off during Sunday football games, but it didn’t work. I think she would have had more success with chicken wings than the Milk Bones.

I tried playing with the dog on the floor, but he fell asleep. Then I played with him on my bed, but I fell asleep. Then I put on the TV and turned to Animal Planet. We both fell asleep.

Yesterday in USA Today, an article said researchers now believe pets have a calming influence on your life, lowering blood pressure, leading to a more restful night. I wish I had read that last week. I could have used the sleep.

Dick Wolfsie is an on-air personality at WISH-TV Channel 8 and weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune.