Should you let your furry friends sleep in your bed?
The answer isn’t simple. Most of us who have pets can’t imagine life without them. They provide comfort, unconditional love, and endless entertainment.
But those same lovable little guys can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to letting them sleep in our beds at night.
So let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of sleeping with our fluffy loved ones
Why We Love to Sleep With Our Pets
From wanting companionship, to assistance for a medical condition, there are tons of reasons why we have pets.
Whether you bring an animal into your life to feel loved or to feel safe—or both—the fact remains that many North Americans who have pets allow them in their bed at night.
Humans are social creatures, and having a soft, warm animal next to them while they sleep can promote feelings of comfort and safety. There have been a variety of studies on the topic, with some surveys reporting as many as 55% of people sharing their bed with a pet.
Do Pets Even Like Sleeping With Us?
Of course they do.
Well, we can’t speak for our pets or even know what they’re thinking, but most dogs and cats will routinely try to share a bed with their humans. The thought is that they are seeking the same warmth, comfort, and companionship that we do.
There’s also this age-old question: Why do pets sleep at the foot of the bed?
Some researchers believe it’s because they have the perfect view of both you and the room. Because falling asleep places pets and humans alike into a state of vulnerability, knowing where everything is in the room has its advantages.
More dogs than cats are reported to sleep with their owners. Being social animals like humans are, they are drawn to their human pack.
There may also be a link between dogs choosing to sleep in their owner’s beds and dominant behavior.
Cats, on the other hand, are not necessarily the anti-social and independent creatures we once thought them to be. When they sleep they are at their most vulnerable, and yet many of them choose to sleep with us over their own beds.
Because cats love warmth, this shows they see us as hot-water bottles they can trust.
Pros of Sleeping with Pets
What are the arguments in favour of sharing your bed with your pets?
1. Animals provide stress relief
Imagine you’re getting ready for bed after a long and stressful day. You slide under the covers and your dog or cat immediately hops up to share the bed with you, snuggling into your arms.
Animals have been scientifically proven to reduce our stress, so it’s no wonder the majority of us feel happier with them in our beds.
The warm, soothing sensation of sharing your bed with a dog or a cat releases stress-fighting hormones called oxytocin. These hormones potentially combat against depression and promote a feeling of well-being.
2. The presence of a large dog or cat can help you feel safe
While cats may not be able to protect you as well as dogs, having either animal with you while you’re asleep can improve feelings of safety. If you get a dog to protect the house as well as you, then why not allow them into your bed when it’s time to hit the hay?
Dogs especially will alert their owners to any changes in the environment. When you’re at your most vulnerable and in a deep sleep, this can offer added mental security and allow for a better rest.
Our animals look to us for food, shelter, water, and security, so it’s no wonder we tend to look at them in the same light. Trust is an element that has to be earned over time and sharing space with your animal at any point in time can nurture that trust.
Especially in dogs, bonding lets everyone know where they stand and who they can trust. The closer you are to one another, the tighter your relationship and the more likely your dog will want to be with you.
4. Pets can decrease nightmares, anxiety, and depression
Pets, especially service dogs, have been known to reduce mental illnesses. Those who suffer from anxiety, depression, and PTSD are especially responsive to animals sleeping next to them and may find that their symptoms decrease in the presence of an animal like a dog or a cat.
Nightmares and night terrors plague people of all ages and can be the difference between a great sleep and a horrible one. Because these sleep-related dilemmas are often caused by stress, having a dog or a cat nestled next to you is a productive and comfortable way to rest easier.
Cons of sleeping with Pets
Why you shouldn’t let your dog sleep in the bed boasts several factors.
1. Pets can disrupt your sleep
Sleeping with your pet can promote great sleep, but it can also do the opposite. If you’re a light sleeper, you may be privy to the sound of your pet snoring or all those times they move around to find a more comfortable position.
If you have a dog, sometimes they will wake you because they have to go to the bathroom or maybe they want to play. Cats may wake you when they’re hungry or decide your hair or toes are a perfect outlet for their energy.
Although, a 2015 study by the Mayo Clinic determined that having a dog in the bed did not negatively impact sleep efficiency.
2. Allergies and pests
Pets, especially if they are outdoor cats or dogs, can potentially bring pests and other creepy crawlies into the house. This also means they may bring them into your bed, too. Lice, fleas, and ticks are just three of the more common pests your pets can bring inside.
If you have allergies, pets—especially ones with thick, heavy fur—can trigger reactions like itchy eyes, hives, and stuffy noses. If you’re prone to more severe allergic reactions because of animals, it’s recommended that you stay away from them altogether.
If you still want a cat or a dog despite your allergies, there are plenty of hypoallergenic options available. Dog breeds include Afghan hounds, American hairless terriers, and poodles. Cat breeds include oriental short hairs, Balinese, and hairless cats.
3. Some pets are not suitable for sleeping with their owners
If you sleep with another person and your pet sleeps between you, there is the chance they could get crushed or suffocate. This is also true if your animal is small, such as a kitten or chihuahua-sized dog.
On the opposite side of the coin, your pet could hurt you during sleep. Cats like to sleep on or around your face, so their claws could accidentally cause damage. Large dogs laying on top of you can cause respiratory trouble and their teeth can deliver a painful bite.
4. Infants and toddlers should not sleep with pets
Infants are still learning their world and it isn’t safe to let them sleep with a dog or a cat. They can easily suffocate if the pet presses into their faces. For this reason, pets, blankets, and soft items should not be left with an infant without supervision.
Toddlers and young children may not understand how to properly interact with pets. They can tug, pull, and grab at them without realizing that they are doing harm. A dog or a cat may not know why they are being treated in such a way and retaliate.
Like infants, toddlers and young children should be left with pets only under supervision.
7 Tips For Letting Your Pet Sleep in the Bed
- Don’t let your pet call the shots when it comes to nightly playtime and food. Establish a routine with your pet covering food, playtime, going to the bathroom, and sleeping.
- Invest in a mattress cover to protect your mattress from pet hair and pests, or choose a bed with a washable cover.
- Make sure your dog or cat understands where they can and can’t go on the bed.
- Be certain your dog or cat is housebroken before letting them in your bed.
- Add brushing and bathing into the weekly routine so your pet—and your bed—stays clean.
- To avoid hair, pests, and dander under your blankets, have your pet sleep on top of them (if possible).
- Consider the size of your pet so they aren’t suffocated or crushed during the night
Is Sleeping with Your Pet Okay?
It isn’t hard to understand why people love sleeping with their pets. They’re furry, warm, and offer us unconditional love and comfort. And despite the many reasons why we shouldn’t sleep with our pets, we still do.
Creating routines, addressing behavioral issues, and setting boundaries are three key elements in having a successful night’s sleep with your pet. While there are advantages and disadvantages of allowing your pet to sleep in your bed, the ultimate choice is yours.
Choose wisely according to your lifestyle and your animal, and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
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We promise that both you and your pet will have the best sleeps of your lives.