Sleeping With Pets: Pros and Cons
Sleeping with pets has become a common practice in households worldwide. While there are various benefits to having pets in the bedroom at night, there are also some downsides to consider. In this blog, we will examine the facts surrounding bed-sharing to help you make an informed decision about whether sleeping with your pet is right for you.
Benefits of Sleeping with Pets
Research has suggested that sleeping with a pet can help reduce stress levels.1,2 When individuals cuddle with their pets, it can help lower their heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn can help them feel more relaxed. For individuals who experience anxiety or sleep disorders, having a pet nearby can provide a sense of comfort and security.
One of the most significant upsides of sleeping with pets is the potential mental health benefits.2,3 Studies have shown that pet ownership can improve subjective well-being and help buffer stress.2 Moreover, having a pet in the bedroom can reduce feelings of loneliness, particularly in older adults.1
A survey conducted by the Mayo Clinic reported that over 40% of pet owners said their pets helped them sleep better. Pets can provide a sense of comfort and security, which can help individuals fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
For individuals with pets, sleeping with them can also provide an opportunity for bonding. Sharing a bed with a pet creates a sense of intimacy that can strengthen their relationship. For pets that experience separation anxiety, sleeping in the same bed as their owner can help them feel more secure and less anxious.4
Downsides of Sleeping with Pets
For individuals with allergies, sleeping with pets can exacerbate their symptoms. Pet dander, saliva, and urine can all trigger allergic reactions, causing itching, sneezing, and other uncomfortable symptoms.5
While sharing the bed with a pet can improve sleep quality for some individuals, it can cause sleep disturbances for others. Pets may snore, move around a lot, or wake up frequently at night, disrupting sleep.6 Additionally, if a pet has accidents or wakes up to go outside during the night, it can also present sleep challenges.
Although uncommon, pets can also introduce germs and bacteria into the bed, which can be a hygiene concern. If pets spend time outdoors or in places where they may pick up dirt or bacteria, they can transfer those contaminants to the bed. Additionally, pets that shed a lot can leave fur and dander on the sheets, which can be difficult to clean.5
Lastly, some pet owners may have difficulty enforcing limits with their pets. Owczarczak-Garstecka et al. (2020) found that while some pet owners saw sleeping with their dogs as a positive experience, others felt that it led to increased pet dependence and difficulty setting boundaries.
Tips and Tricks for Sleeping with Your Pet
If you decide that sleeping with your pet is the right decision for you and your lifestyle, we have compiled some tricks and tips to make your nights more comfortable:
- Make sure that you and your pet are comfortable sleeping together. If either of you feels cramped or uncomfortable, it may affect your sleep quality.
- Keep your pet clean and well-groomed, so it does not bring in dirt, allergens, or pests to your bed.
- Brush your pet’s fur regularly to minimize shedding and dander.
- Wash your bedding regularly to maintain good hygiene and prevent the buildup of pet odors or bacteria.
- Consider using hypoallergenic bedding or covers that are resistant to pet hair, dust mites, and other allergens.
- Avoid letting your pet sleep on your pillow or under the covers, as it may increase the risk of suffocation or accidental injury.
- Train your pet to follow a consistent bedtime routine, so it learns to settle down and relax at night.
- Provide your pet with adequate exercise and mental stimulation during the day, so it is tired and ready to sleep at night.
- Consider consulting with a veterinarian if your pet has any medical or behavioral issues that may affect its sleep or yours.
Remember, it is important to prioritize you and your pet’s comfort, safety, and health when deciding whether to sleep together. If you or your pet experience any discomfort, allergies, or sleep disturbances, it may be best to make separate sleeping arrangements. Ultimately, deciding to sleep with a pet is a highly personal decision and there is no right or wrong choice as long as it suits you.
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- Krahn, L. E., Tovar, M. D., Miller, B., & Olson, J. (2015). Are pets in the bedroom a problem? Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 90(12), 1663–1665.
- Wells, D. L. (2019). Companion animals and human health: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 31, 109–116.
- McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239–1252.
- Grandgeorge, M., Tordjman, S., Lazartigues, A., Lemonnier, E., & Deleuze, J. F. (2012). Does pet arrival trigger prosocial behaviors in individuals with autism? PLoS One, 7(8), e41739.
- Ownby, D. R., Johnson, C. C., & Peterson, E. L. (2002). Exposure to dogs and cats in the first year of life and risk of allergic sensitization at 6 to 7 years of age. JAMA, 288(8), 963–972.
- Marshall-Pescini, S., Dale, R., Quervel-Chaumette, M., & Range, F. (2017). Critical issues in experimental studies of prosociality in non-human species. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 4(4), 425–436.
- Owczarczak-Garstecka, S. C., Brzozowska, A. M., & Pisula, W. (2020). How do dog owners perceive sleeping with their dogs? An online survey. PloS one, 15(7), e0235454.