Do you love sleeping with pets? If you’re a pet owner, you know how difficult it can be to resist those big, pleading eyes when your furry friend begs to climb into bed with you. But have you ever considered that allowing your pets to sleep in your bed affects the quality of your sleep?
Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping with pets and whether or not it’s worth sacrificing your sleep quality for a little snuggle time.
Trouble sleeping? You’re not alone. A recent ISPA Sleep Habits and Bed Activities Survey found that more than 4 in 10 adults say that it is very/somewhat difficult for them to fall asleep, and 49% say it is very/somewhat difficult for them to stay asleep. But what is causing you to have trouble sleeping? From stress to snoring, there are many factors that can contribute to how you sleep—but what if we told you that one of them was your pet?
Do pets disturb your sleep?
It’s possible that sleeping with pets could be contributing to your sleep disruptions. In the following sections, we’ll explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of sleeping with pets to help you make an informed decision about whether sharing your bed with your furry friend is right for you.
Sleeping with Pets Benefits
Have you heard the phrase “three dog night”? It’s an expression that describes a night that’s so cold it requires sleeping next to three dogs to stay warm.
In fact, humans and animals have been sleeping side-by-side for thousands of years—from Aboriginal Australians who slept alongside their dogs (or dingoes) for warmth and protection from evil spirits to English commoners who gave cats free range within their sleeping quarters to help keep pests and rodents under control.
Today, sleeping with pets can still provide several benefits.
First, they can provide a sense of safety and security. The presence of a pet lying next to you can help ease feelings of anxiety and promote relaxation, leading to a better night’s sleep. Plus, if your bed companion is a light-sleeping canine, you can rest assured knowing they’ll alert you to anything unusual.
In addition, studies have shown that sleeping with pets can lower blood pressure and reduce feelings of loneliness and depression. For many, pets offer emotional support and provide a sense of purpose and motivation in life. Playing with and petting a dog has also been shown to increase oxytocin levels and reduce cortisol levels, both of which can influence relaxation and stress reduction. So a little snuggle time before bed might be just what you need to get a good night’s sleep.
Having pets in your home can also affect the types of bacteria present, which impacts your immune system. Exposure to a variety of microorganisms is believed to be good for human health and immunity, but pets may offer even greater immunity advantages for infants and children. Research shows that living with dogs or cats during the first year of life may reduce the risk of developing allergies to dogs, cats, and other allergens, including dust mites, blue grass, and ragweed, later in life. Plus, what’s cuter than a baby and a puppy napping together?
Sleeping with Pets Drawbacks
As they say, “Let sleeping dogs lie;” while sleeping with pets may provide some benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to consider.
Introducing pets to children when they are young can help prevent allergies later on. However, for many, allergy concerns remain a prominent issue. Pet dander and fur in the bedroom can aggravate allergies, causing sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy or watery eyes, and even skin rashes. Additionally, any inflammation or irritation in the airways can worsen common sleep apnea symptoms, making it harder to breathe and even more difficult to sleep.
Research shows that sleeping with pets can lead to greater sleep disturbances compared to those who don’t share their bed with their furry friends. Specifically, dog owners have a higher likelihood of experiencing sleep disorders and difficulty sleeping than non-dog owners. This could be attributed to the dog’s snoring, moving around frequently, or even barking during sleep, which can cause their owners to wake up several times throughout the night.
Another drawback of sleeping with pets is the potential hygiene issue. Pets can bring dirt, allergens, and even parasites like fleas and ticks into your bed. These unwelcome additions to the bed can lead to skin irritations and allergic reactions, as well as the spread of diseases.
Regularly bathing and grooming your pet can help reduce the amount of dirt and dander they bring into your bedroom, but it’s important to also regularly clean your bedding and vacuum your bedroom to reduce the amount of pet hair and dander in the air and on surfaces.
While pets can provide a sense of comfort and security, they can also snore, move around a lot, and carry allergens that worsen sleep disorders. If you’re a pet owner who’s having trouble sleeping, it may be worth experimenting with different sleeping arrangements to find what works best for you and your furry friends.
Whether you’re sleeping solo or cuddled with your pet, visit bettersleep.org and learn how to improve your sleep.