Sleep with your Pet: Is it a Good or Bad Idea?
Sleep with Your Pet: Is It a Good or Bad Idea?
by Ellie Porter
Managing Editor | sleephelp.org
For many people, their pets are an indispensable part of their lives. A 2008 survey found that 53 percent of dog owners consider their pet to be a member of their family. Co-sleeping seems natural in that case. However, there are pros and cons to inviting a furry friend into the bed. Knowing the bad with the good can help you make a decision that works for you and your pet.
The Good: When a Pet in the Bed Might Work
People who suffer from anxiety often find relief in the companionship of a beloved pet. A 2015 study found that children with dogs were less likely to develop anxiety. That anxiety reduction came from helping kids develop verbal skills by talking to their pet. It can also come from companionship, which isn’t limited to just kids.
Time spent with your pet can cause a release of oxytocin, a hormone that is often associated with childbirth. Oxytocin strengthens relationships between people. However, time spent with your pet can cause a small upsurge in oxytocin that increases feelings of love and attachment. The best part is it can have the same effect on your pet. Those feelings of companionship and belonging can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, which in turn can improve sleep quality.
Safety and Security
This in part of goes along with reducing anxiety. One of the number one reasons people invite a pet into their bedroom is for safety. This is especially true for people who live alone. Animals are often more aware of their surroundings while they sleep. They can detect intruders or fires long before their owner awakens. However, there’s a con associated with this pro. You also risk a warning of the squirrel in the tree or a passing car.
The Bad: When It’s Time to Say No
If you have allergies, you really shouldn’t share a bed with your pet. Animal fur and dander can become attached to furniture, bedding, and the carpet. Open airways are far more important than bonding with your pet.
Small Risk of Illness
Pets bring in extra dirt and germs that could end up in your bed. An animal that’s up-to-date on vaccinations as well as flea and tick treatments, poses a very little risk of passing on a disease. However, people with a compromised immune system or young children may be more susceptible to some pet-related illnesses.
The more bodies you put in the bed, the more sleep disruptions you’re going to have. On average, you need seven to nine full hours of sleep and so does your pet. A loud or restless sleeper, either your pet or you, may cause chronic sleep deprivation for everyone in the bed. Soft mattresses with good motion absorption can reduce some transfer of motion. If your pet gets too cuddly, there’s not much your mattress can do.
Many people find that even with sleep disruptions, they enjoy sharing a bed with their dog or cat. No matter what you choose, the decision should be one that’s made with everyone who will be sharing the bed. A thoughtful look at pros and cons should give you a good idea of what will work best for you, your family, and your pet.