Experts: Sleeping with Pets Can Benefit Some Pets and Owners
While conventional wisdom dictates you shouldn’t sleep with your pets, some studies cited by CNN suggest the opposite.
According to a 2015 study from the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Phoenix, more than 50% of their pet-owning patients let their fur babies sleep in the bedroom, with most claiming that doing so was “unobtrusive or even beneficial.”
The Mayo Clinic’s Phoenix branch also conducted another study in 2017, wherein dogs and their owners were required to wear sleep trackers to measure the quality of their slumber. The results showed that research participants who allowed their dog into their bedrooms “got a decent night's rest,” as did the pups.
Based on these results, Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, a specialist from the Center for Sleep Medicine’s Rochester branch, believes it’s not necessarily bad to have pets in the bedroom or on the bed. In fact, having your fur babies close by can provide “significant psychological comfort […] which can help both initiate and maintain sleep.”
Snuggling with pets can also benefit people suffering from anxiety or depression. According to Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, “the pet is a big pillow, a big blanket, and [people] may feel that snuggly, cuddly, furry creature decreases their anxiety."
Co-sleeping: Not for All Pet Owners
Unfortunately, not all pet owners can benefit from cuddling with their pups in bed.
In the 2015 Mayo Clinic study, around 20% of pet owners who allowed pets in the bedroom reported reduced sleep quality. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic’s 2017 study noted that whenever people moved their pets from the floor to the bed, both the pets’ and owners’ sleep quality worsened.
Experts also advise people with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, asthma, or delayed sleep phases against allowing their pets to stay in bed. Because pets may wake up and start moving around or making noises in the middle of the night, they can pull you out of your slumber and fragment your sleep.
People with allergies, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also advised against allowing their pets in bed. Even if the pet in question doesn’t shed, cuddling with them will expose the pet owner to potential allergens on the animal’s skin or saliva. These can trigger allergies and irritation that can keep pet owners up all night.
How to Successfully Sleep with Your Pet
The key to getting a good night’s rest with your pet mainly depends on how deeply you and your fur baby sleep. If your fur baby snores, you may also have more trouble drifting off into a deep slumber. While snuggling under the covers with your pet can feel nice and cozy, doing so can raise your body temperature and keep you from dozing off.
According to Michael Breus, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, it’s best to give co-sleeping with your pet a try for a few nights at first. That way, in case you decide that it isn’t working out, your cat or pup won’t be conditioned into thinking that they can still join you in bed.
If you want to keep your fur babies close by without necessarily allowing them in bed, consider investing in high-quality custom dog beds or cat beds that your pets can lie on instead. These pet beds can be kept in the bedroom, allowing your animal friend to keep you company while making them less likely to wake you up in the wee hours of the morning. If you’re worried that your furry friend may start to feel too cold at night, you can also get them personalized dog blankets or cat blankets to keep them warm and cozy.