SLEEPING WITH PETS
Recently, we conducted a social media poll asking our clients/followers if they co-sleep with their pets. The majority of responses, was an overwhelming, YES!
So, maybe you are wondering, should I allow my dog or cat sleep with me? Let’s discuss the benefits and potential drawbacks of sleeping alongside your furry companion.
SHOULD I ALLOW MY PET TO SLEEP WITH ME?
For many, this is solely a personal decision. Seriously, the main reason we even have pets is for comfort and security. However, sharing the bed with your furry critter may negatively affect your quality of sleep and can trigger those with allergies to pet hair, fur and dander.
It all comes down to this. You must determine whether the benefits of sharing your bed with Fluffy, outweigh the potential risks.
BENEFITS OF SLEEPING WITH YOUR PETS
There is a lot of research suggesting that sleeping with your pet can provide a variety of benefits.
Comfort and Security
Oftentimes, we choose a certain pet (mainly a dog) knowing they can provide us with protection and help to keep us safe. For example, having a “guard dog,” may increase our sense of security. Loud barking and growling may deter someone from entering your home who has malicious intent.
In the case of service animals, they provide the individual with a sense of comfort and security knowing the animal will be triggered by an event that could cause harm to that person.
Service animals are trained to identify physical signs that their person is in distress.
Immunity and Overall Health
Further research is needed in this space. However, there is data that shows sharing a living space with dogs and/or cats can improve a person’s overall health and immunity.
As far as immunity, this just means that exposure to bacteria and other microorganisms in the home from pets, boosts a human’s immune response to exposure in the future. In other words, we will be less sickly.
According to the National Library of Medicine, touching your pets while sleeping may also provide overall health benefits in the form of positive effects on the cardiovascular system.
Improvements in Mental Health
Have you ever heard the saying, “pet a dog?.” You really should (ask permission from the owner first). Pets are generally a positive force for humans.
Having a pet for mental wellness may:
- Reduce loneliness
- Regulate emotions
- Reduce worries
- Give one a sense of purpose and meaning
- Increase oxytocin levels (helps with relaxation)
- Snuggling may reduce the need for sleep medication
RISKS OF SLEEPING WITH YOUR PETS
Did you know there are many of us who are allergic to our pets, but live with them regardless? If you are one of these, you may want to avoid allowing your pet into your sleeping environment.
Quality of Sleep
As some of us find comfort and security having a dog or cat in the bed, there are others who experience a disruption in sleeping patterns.
You may even be experience a decrease in sleep quality caused by sleeping with your pet without even realizing it:
- movement in bed
- awaken by shaking or activity
- different sleep patterns
If you find the pet is disrupting your quality of sleep, consider setting up a comfy bed elsewhere in the bedroom.
Although not as common, some pets may show aggression if they are suddenly awakened. This could have the potential of a dog bite leading to injury and/or infection.
TIPS FOR SLEEPING WITH YOUR PET
Whether you currently share the bed with your pet, or if you are considering it, here are a few tips:
- wash the bedding on a regular basis
- exercise your pet prior to bedtime
- ensure the size of your bed is adequate to provide humans and pets with a comfortable place to sleep
- keep pet vaccinations up to date, along with annual exams
- wipe their paws prior to allowing them on the bed
- keep a bedtime routine
- control the climate
- probably NOT a good idea to allow your child to bed share with a pet
Given both you and your pet are healthy, go ahead and sleep with your furry companion. As mentioned earlier, sleeping with your pet is a very personal decision.
If the rewards outweigh the risks, what’s a little doggy or kitty hair when you know the love and comfort you both are providing for one another!