An American Pet Products survey from 2019 found that 41% of medium-sized dog owners and 62% of cat owners sleep with their pets. “For smaller dogs and larger dogs, the percentages were higher and lower respectively.” (Sleep Advisor) Many people claim it helps lower stress levels, therefore, enabling better sleep, but does science or logic back up this opinion? Let’s find out!
How Can I Know If My Dog Is Causing Sleep Issues?
If you have a CPAP, you can check your reading every morning to see if there’s a change when you sleep with a pet versus when your pet is away from the bed. If you are not using a CPAP, you should be able to tell from the way you feel. Ask yourself the following:
- Am I waking up easily?
- Could I face the day without caffeine?
- Do I drag in the afternoon?
- Do I feel I could work out or go for a long walk?
If you answer no to any or all of these questions, you should try sleeping without your pet for a night.
“When I sleep with a pet, I feel safer.”
Pets, especially dogs, can make us feel safer from intrusions or even home issues like fire or gas leaks. The conflict with your pet sleeping in the bed is that they may be further from a logical point of entry and have a harder time using their senses to identify an issue.
You may feel safer by the simple comfort of having your pet close to you, similar to the way many parents enjoy cosleeping with their babies and children. If you feel that comfort and find your dog is not affecting your sleep, then carry on cuddling Fido!
“We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets.” – Lois Krahn M.D. of the Mayo Clinic.
“My pet has to sleep with me, or it won’t sleep.”
For some unlucky pet owners, their pet has anxiety that can be relieved by being with their human. If this is the case for you, you could try the following before letting your pet in the bed with you:
- Place a dog in a crate or other confined (and safe) space.
- Make sure the area has a comfortable bed or pillows for them.
- Try placing a crate cover or a light bed sheet over the crate.
By creating a cave-like environment, many dogs and some cats feel protected. If you choose this route, don’t force the pet into the crate. If they do not go willingly (or with a little treat), it adds to the pet’s stress level, and no one will be sleeping easily!
Sleeping With A Pet Can Boost Your Immunity.
While it might seem logical that if you sleep with a pet, you are more likely to have issues, like allergic reactions, it’s almost the opposite! Having a pet changes the physical atmosphere of your home. Pets bring in different bacteria, which in such small doses, boost the immune system of humans living in that home.
“Researchers hypothesize that exposure to a diversity of microorganisms benefits human health and immunity, and a lack of diverse exposure might be to blame for a rise in allergies and autoimmune disorders. Past research shows that petting a dog13 increases an immune response, so the close contact of sharing a sleeping space may benefit the immune system more than simply having a dog in the house.” (Sleep Foundation)
This is the scientific explanation for those people with mild allergies that don’t seem to suffer from exposure to their own pets.
Should I Start Sleeping With A Pet?
While we’ve looked at many of the benefits, if you are not already sleeping with a pet, it’s best not to start. There are many reasons why sleeping with a pet is not good, such as:
Your pet may not be as nice as you think when you bump them awake in the middle of the night!
While your pet can boost your immune system, sleeping next to the hair and its dander can cause sneezing and itchy eyes and skin.
Most adults who have tried sleeping with a toddler will tell you they move a lot. The same might be true for your pet. They could be keeping you from getting the deep sleep you need.
Many pets have different sleep schedules than their humans. If you sleep with a pet, be prepared to wake up by a hungry cat kneading your forehead or a dog licking your face from kibble!
The most crucial element to consider when choosing whether to sleep with your pet is your well-being and what’s best for your pet. We would love to hear from you – do you sleep with your pet? Let us know on social media: