Sleeping With Pets: Here's What Experts Have to Say
Pet parents adore their four-legged companions so much that they choose to sleep with them at night. Research shows that more than half of pet owners sleep with their pets.
Most pet owners consider their pets part of the family, so it is no surprise that they will go out of their way to ensure their furry companions’ comfort.
However, with an increasing focus on our sleep health, pet parents are starting to wonder about the potential disadvantages of sleeping with pets. In fact, sharing a bed with a pet is the subject of controversy among pet parents.
Various studies suggest that there are many benefits to sleeping with pets. And experts tend to agree.
According to Audrey Wells, MD, a board-certified sleep medicine physician, a pet can provide an emotional connection and reduce anxiety and stress levels, therefore promoting sleep. “Some people may consider their pets an added layer of security, dependable to alert them to unexpected noises or lights.”
Another benefit of sleeping with your pet is that they can keep you nice and warm during the night. People who get chilled easily might enjoy cuddling with a furry companion during frigid winter nights.
“Pets are sensitive to routine, and they can help enforce a regular bedtime and better sleep quality for their owner,” explained Dr. Wells. “Similarly, pets can signal wake-up time in the morning and even prompt some time outside for a walk and daylight exposure.”
If you enjoy sleeping with your pet and find it beneficial for your sleep, the science agrees with you. According to Amanda Farah, National Training and Behavioral Coordinator at Best Friends Animal Society, studies have found that some people sleep more soundly when their dog is sleeping next to them.
“If you and your dog both sleep well together, you’ll enjoy the health benefits that come with a good night’s sleep, such as improved mental clarity, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, and a stronger immune system,” explained Farah.
According to Teddy Cralle, Ms, RN, certified clinical sleep educator, some people sleep better when their pet is in the bed, but some don’t. If there’s a chance that you won't get a good night’s rest while sleeping with your pet you shouldn't sleep with them in the first place.
For example, if you’re a light sleeper and your dog likes to change positions during the night, sleeping with your pooch may wake you more often, resulting in low-quality sleep. Also, some pups like to claim the entire bed for themselves, leading to a sleepless night and a backache.
“Sacrificing your sleep means sacrificing your health, well-being, and quality of life - and that is not a sacrifice to make,” Cralle added.
Sharing a bed with a pet may not be the best idea if you’re an asthma or allergy sufferer. Although some dog breeds shed less than others, no dog is truly hypoallergenic because it’s their dander and not hair that triggers an allergic reaction.
Zoonotic diseases are another downside of sleeping with pets. Research has confirmed that sharing a bed with a pet can increase the exposure rate to pathogens that might be present.
Although no one wants to think about it, pets can bring unwanted guests to your bed. Fleas and ticks are the most active during the warmer months, but the truth is they can infest your pet all year long.
If the downsides of sleeping with your pet have made you reconsider your sleeping arrangement don’t fret - you can still have your pooch close by while you sleep. A crate or a cozy dog bed next to your bed will help everyone get a good night’s rest.
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Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!
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