Nearly 60 percent of all households in the United States have pets and just over half of those sleep with their pet. An American Kennel Club survey found that 45 percent of dog owners and 62 percent of cat owners slept with their pet on the bed. Whether you’ve already been cuddling with your favorite furry friend or are still on the fence, you’ll be happy to know that sleeping with your pet comes with benefits.
Safe, Happy, and Healthy
For a co-sleeping arrangement to work, the safety and health of everyone will need to be taken into consideration. A restless sleeper, either person or pet, can interfere with everyone’s sleep. However, if everyone agrees, the pros can far outweigh the cons.
1. Sense of Security
Having a pet in the bedroom can offer some protection or at least a sense of security. After all, animals can be more aware of potential dangers, fire, and intruders, than the humans they love. A pet can also be a good substitute for another human in the bed, especially for those who live alone or when a partner might be away. Keep in mind that your pet may also try to protect you from things that are harmless like the wind or a passing car, which could interrupt your sleep.
2. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are major sleep disruptors. Once you start losing sleep, it can create an ongoing cycle because lack of sleep causes changes in the brain that magnify stress. However, pets can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Simply touching your pet can release hormones that make you feel happy, and there’s no time that you need to relax more than when you’re ready to fall asleep.
3. Comfort and Warmth
If you’re always cold, a pet in the bed can keep you warm all night long. Dogs and cats have a warmer body temperature than humans, making them a natural alternative to an electric blanket. However, that might also put you at risk for overheating so adjust your thermostat accordingly. (Most people comfortably sleep between 60 to 68 degrees.)
4. Emotional Bonding and Companionship
To your pet, you’re part of the pack or at the very least a trusted ally. Sleeping together builds trust between you and your pet. A pet can also serve to keep loneliness, a common contributor to depression, from taking over.
Making It Work
While sleeping with your pet can have amazing benefits, you might have some to do some adjusting to make it work. You’ll need to consider both the size and sleep style of everyone who’ll be sharing your bed. A large dog who’s a restless sleeper may not make the best bed companion. In that case, a dog bed or crate in the corner might be a better option.
There are a few instances when sleeping with your pet is not a good idea. If you have any pet allergies or asthma, sharing your bed can aggravate your condition. Pet dander can attach itself to clothing and furniture, irritating allergies long after your pet has left the room. In these cases, not only should your pet be kept out of bed but also out of the bedroom.
After weighing the pros and cons, you may be ready to share your bedroom or bed with your pet. Not only will your relationship with your pet improve but your sleep quality might as well.