Sleeping with your pet? Is this a good idea?
Those of us with companion animals often enjoy our pet’s company so much that we like to share the bed with them at night. Research seems to indicate that about 56% of pet owners report sleeping with their pets in the bedroom, while 35% of children sleep with their pets.
The choice to sleep with your pet is a personal decision. I’m sure we’d agree that pets offer comfort and security, but they definitely can affect your sleep quality and may even trigger allergies for some people. Consider the benefits and whether they outweigh the risks, and then choose the best situation for you and your pet! Whether the pet is IN the bed, or just IN the room can be a modification that works for both of you.
- Co-sleeping provides companionship, security, and relaxation. Recent studies show that many individuals—especially those who live alone—find the presence of a pet helps them sleep. Feeling safe can play a large part in how well they sleep. A recent study explored how the presence of a pet in bed impacted women’s sleep quality and found that it made them feel more secure and comfortable.
- Studies found that support animals reduce the frequency of nightmares and even help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can be true for both children and adults.
- Having a pet can reduce worries and loneliness, and distract from mental illness symptoms. In this way, pets help regulate emotions and add to a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
- Positively interacting with a dog (or cat) increases oxytocin levels. The release of oxytocin promotes theta brainwaves, which occur during REM sleep. Increased oxytocin and reduced cortisol levels are associated with relaxation and stress reduction, all beneficial for a good night’s sleep! If sleeping with a dog or cat involves snuggling up and making direct physical contact, it might result in less stress and increased relaxation.
- Having a pet appears to improve human health in many ways, by decreasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowering blood pressure. Owning a dog is correlated to a reduced risk of death.
- Immunity is a huge factor when considering allowing dogs and cats to share the bed! This is especially true for children and infants. Living with a cat in a person’s first year of life has been found to lessen the risk of becoming allergic to cats by age 18 by 50%! Particularly for males, living with a dog during the first year of life also reduces the chance of becoming allergic to dogs. In some studies, being exposed to two or more dogs or cats in the first year of life reduces a person’s chance of developing other allergies, such as dust mites, bluegrass, and ragweed.
That being said…there ARE some risks of having a pet share the bed!
- We all know people who have pet allergies and live with a pet regardless. However, for people with severe pet allergies, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences advises against allowing pets into your bedroom, avoiding exposure to their hair and dander as you sleep.
- Pets can bring microorganisms into your home and this has benefits and drawbacks. Exposure to a variety of bacteria and other microbes can strengthen the human immune system, but pets can bring in harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites as well! Keeping your pet healthy and having regular vet visits is important if you are sharing your bed! We recommend our PawTree Spa Grooming Line to keep your pet fresh and clean!
- It’s interesting, but there are differences in sleep quality depending on CAT or DOG! Women who shared a bed with a dog reported less disturbed sleep than those who shared a bed with a cat. If you feel sharing a bed with your pet disrupts your sleep, consider making a sleeping spot for them near your bed or outside of your bedroom.
- In our situation, Poppy sleeps on a “huge” bed from Duluth Trading Co. NEXT to my side of the bed! By the way, I get no commission from recommending this. It’s just a great bed!
Tips for Sleeping With Your Pet
- Make sure your mattress is large enough to adequately accommodate you, your pet, and anyone else who shares your bed.
- Regularly wash your bedding, as well as any pet beds or blankets you bring into your bedroom. If your pet spends time outside, consider wiping down its paws and coat.
- Make sure your pet is current on the recommended vaccinations for their species. Use the flea and tick treatments and deworming schedule suggested by your vet.
- Make sure your pet has some outside time before bedtime. This allows them one last chance to go potty and might help them burn off excess energy, so they move less and cause fewer sleep disruptions.
- Lastly, never put a child, or anyone for that matter, at risk if there is any indication of aggression from the dog. One study found that 6% of dogs that bit did so as a result of being disturbed from their rest. A good alternative is to have their beds in the room and encourage pets to sleep there.
Finally, tell me what you think! Are you a family that shares the bed with your pets?
- Krahn, L. E., Tovar, M. D., & Miller, B. (2015). Are pets in the bedroom a problem? Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 90(12), 1663–1665.
- Rowe, H., Jarrin, D. C., Noel, N. A., Ramil, J., & McGrath, J. J. (2021). The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime: The effects of pet-human co-sleeping and bedsharing on sleep dimensions of children and adolescents. Sleep Health, 7(3), 324–331.
- Kinsman, R., Owczarczak-Garstecka, S., Casey, R., Knowles, T., Tasker, S., Woodward, J., Da Costa, R., & Murray, J. (2020). Sleep duration and behaviors: A descriptive analysis of a cohort of dogs up to 12 months of age. Animals: An Open Access Journal from MDPI, 10(7), 1172.
- Hoffman, C. L., Stutz, K., & Vasilopoulos, T. (2018). An examination of adult women’s sleep quality and sleep routines in relation to pet ownership and bedsharing. Anthrozoös, 31(6), 711–725.
- Brooks, H. L., Rushton, K., Lovell, K., Bee, P., Walker, L., Grant, L., & Rogers, A. (2018). The power of support from companion animals for people living with mental health problems: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of the evidence. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1), 31
- Summer, Jay,