Theses and Dissertations



Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Nadorff, Michael R.

Committee Member

DeShong, Hilary L.

Committee Member

Gardner, Allison Latimer

Committee Member

Hoffman, Christy L.

Committee Member

McKinney, Cliff

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Applied Psychology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


Sleep is an essential part of life, and obtaining quality sleep is important for various areas of functioning. Behaviors to promote sleep include physical activity, managing stress, reducing anxiety symptoms, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and obtaining bright light exposure. Many of these behaviors overlap with benefits observed from pet ownership (PO). The present study aimed to examine the relation between PO and sleep as well as moderators and mediators of this relation. Four research questions were examined: 1) Is PO significantly related to sleep? 2) Does gender moderate the relation between PO and sleep? 3) Do sleep-promoting behaviors (i.e., physical activity, perceived stress, anxiety symptoms, bright light exposure, sleep-wake variability) mediate the relation between PO and sleep? 4) Do the mediating effects of the sleep-promoting behaviors on the relation between PO and sleep depend on the regularity of walking? Participants (N = 1,250; 80.8% White; 50.5% men) residing in the United States reported on their sleep, physical activity, perceived stress, anxiety symptoms, and light exposure. Participants were 25.5% non-pet owners (NPO), 24.1% cat-only owners (CO), 25.7% dog-only owners (DO), and 24.7% owned dogs and cats (DCO). Data analyses included ANCOVA, Moderation, Parallel Mediation, and Conditional Process Modeling. Key findings included that PO was significantly related to sleep, with NPO sleeping worse than PO (CO/DO/DCO combined) and DCO reporting the best sleep of all four PO groups. The relation between PO and sleep did not significantly differ for men and women. The relation was significantly mediated by anxiety symptoms, perceived stress, light exposure, and sleep-wake variability depending on the groups compared and scoring methods used. Anxiety symptoms and perceived stress were the most robust mediators of the relation between PO and sleep. Walking regularity did not change the mediating effects between PO and sleep. This study is one of the first to examine daytime mechanisms of the relation between PO and sleep. The findings provide a foundation for future research examining how the integration of PO and sleep-promoting behaviors can improve adherence to sleep health recommendations, thus improving owners’ sleep.


Mississippi State University College of Arts & Sciences Strategic Research Initiative

Available for download on Friday, August 15, 2025