A lot of dog owners let their furry friends share their bed at night for a variety of reasons, but does it hurt your “sleep quality”?
A study that was published by the American Pet Products Association showed that nearly 50% of pet owners let their pet cat and pet dogs sleep with them, so it isn’t that uncommon. The question many ask is whether this is safe or healthy to do.
It’s really a matter of choice, but we’ll take a look and the pros and cons of letting your canine pooch sleep in your bed.
Pros of Letting Your Pet Sleep in Your Bed
Medical director, Lisa Shives, MD, who works for Northshore Sleep Medicine says that having a pet offers a number of medical benefits to begin with.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of letting your pet pooch sleep in your bed first.
Fights Insomnia and Promotes Relaxation
Many pet owners find that their pets’ rhythmic breathing helps to calm them and lets them fall asleep faster. Having your dog nearby gives a feeling of safety, promotes a feeling of calm, and relieves stress. This in turn helps you to get a restful night’s sleep.
Those who suffer from insomnia may also experience anxiety, depression, and stress, all of which contribute to making it hard to fall asleep. Having your dog sleep with you can help to counteract sleep-onset insomnia fueled by anxious thoughts.
Their presence can elevate oxytocin levels in the brain, which lightens our mood.
TIP: Invest in a mattress large enough to accommodate you and furry pets, look for superior edge support and good motion isolation, like a memory foam or latex mattress.
Also related: Best Sheets for Dog Hair Reviews
A dog’s body temperature is about 3 to 6 degrees warmer than our own. Their warmth brings a sense of comfort and is better than using a hot water bottle or heated blanket. That feeling of warmth and comfort can work to help you sleep better at night.
Those with depression often suffer from being able to find that connection with others that brings a sense of support and well-being. Having your pet by your side can really help you feel supported and loved unconditionally. Dogs are always ready to offer affection, encouragement, and love.
We are at our most vulnerable when we are asleep. Just knowing that you are being watched over by your dog at night, regardless of how big or small they are, can bring us a sense of safety and comfort. Dogs have really good hearing and will alert us to strangers or danger by barking, which gives many dog owners a sense of security at night.
Strengthens Emotional Bond
Sleeping with your pet can not only make you happy but makes your pet feel happy as well. This helps to strengthen that emotional bond with your pet that is so important, especially if you tend to be out of the house most of the day and your pet is left on its own.
Cons of Letting Your Pet Sleep in Your Bed
We’ve looked at the perks of letting your pet dogs sleep with you. Some studies show that sharing your bed with your dog can result in a bad night’s sleep. There are exceptions when you shouldn’t co-sleep with your pet:
- If they aren’t housebroken
- If you suffer with severe allergies
- If you are easily awoken
- If you or your pup have health issues
Now, let’s look at some of the downsides of co-sleeping with your pup.
If you’re a light sleeper, having your pet dog in your bed can end up disrupting your sleep rather than enhancing it. They have a different sleep pattern than we do, waking every few hours. This means the motion of them jumping on or off of the bed can wake you up several times a night (particularly on a mattress with poor motion isolation commonly found in innerspring mattresses and waterbeds).
TIP: If your pet does wakes you during the night, do not give in to them with a midnight play or snack session. It’s vital for them to get enough outdoor playtime and potty time during the day.
Risk of Disease
Our pets spend a lot of time outdoors, coming into contact with some things that we tend to avoid. They are curious after all! Some of these things may affect our own health. The Center for Disease Control has estimated that 60% of the pathogens that are human are passed on to us by our animals. Dogs like to lick your face, which can pass on zoonotic diseases, such as meningitis, plague, and parasites. There is also the risk of fleas and mites.
Asthma and Allergies
Derek Damin of Kentuckiana Allergy, Asthma & Immunology shared that “people with pet allergies or asthma shouldn’t even allow pets in the bedroom”. All pets carry allergens, including pollen and dust, which sticks to their fur and paws. Even a good cleaning doesn’t always get rid of these allergens, which can exacerbate allergic reactions for some. If you have asthma or allergies, letting your pet share your bed can increase those allergic reactions and the allergens can be transferred to your bedding and clothing.
To maintain a feeling of connection and intimacy with your partner, it’s important to cultivate that physical aspect of the relationship. If you share a bed with a human companion, having your dog sleeping with you can get in the way of alone time with them. If our dog is used to sleeping in your bed at night, and you decide to shut them out for an evening of quiet time with your partner, you then have to deal with them scratching or howling at your bedroom door to be let in. After all, you’re denying them their sleeping spot.
In some situations, allowing your pet dog to dominate the bed can create behavioral problems, intensifying aggression, and dominance problems. If you are going to allow them to sleep on your bed, its best to train them to only sleep in a specific spot on the bed, such as at the bottom of it. Victoria Stilwell, who is an international dog trainer, shares that, as long as your pet isn’t displaying behavioral issues, it’s alright to let them sleep in your bed.