Co-Sleeping with Your Pet: Should You Do it?

For many of us, our fur babies are a part of our family. They are treated like spoiled children, likely with more privileges than our flesh and blood. For this reason, we often give our pets free range of the house, including our bed. You may find yourself waking up with a cat on your head or clinging to the edge of your bed as your Great Dane sprawls out, sacrificing your comfort for your pet’s.


Alternatively, you may believe that pets shouldn’t share your bed and your dog has their own dog bed. When you combine their fur and dander with the fact that they don’t wear shoes outside, they may not seem like the most hygienic bed companion. Also, sleeping with a pet at the end of your bed may significantly impact the quality of sleep you get each night, or if you have restless legs, it could put your pet at risk for an injury.


To help settle the debate, we’ve checked in on what the sleep experts are saying and whether or not you should share your bed with your pet. Fortunately, there is a good amount of research on the subject that has identified both pros and cons of sleeping with your pet.  


The Pros and Cons of Sharing Your Bed With Your Pet


Although it is primarily a matter of opinion, some studies have found that there are some cons to sharing your bed with a pet.


It may disrupt your sleep and decrease sleep quality.


Generally, dogs are light sleepers. It is an innate instinct to always be alert, so they often don’t knock out the same way we can (though this isn’t always the case). But, if your dog is a light sleeper, they could disrupt your sleep.   


In 2020, a study found that sleeping with a dog increased human movement at night, disturbing sleep. Though these individuals didn’t remember waking up, the researchers believed this could still affect sleep cycles.


Additionally, if your dog snores in their sleep or moves their legs in their sleep, it could make staying asleep more challenging. Cats aren’t necessarily better, either. They are nocturnal animals, and they may purposely try to wake you up in the night.


It may cause allergies.


Co-Sleeping with Your Pet: Should You Do it? - It may cause allergies

Even if you aren’t allergic to your pet, they may carry other allergens into your bed at night. For example, your dog may love rolling around in the grass or exploring the garden in your backyard. When they do this, they will get dust and pollen in their fur, which they will then bring into your bed. This can trigger allergies, making it difficult to sleep and leaving you feeling stuffed up in the morning.


It could spread disease. 


Co-Sleeping with Your Pet: Should You Do it? - It could spread disease

In the United States, the risk of disease from a pet in your bed is low. However, if your pet has fleas, ticks, ringworm, or mites and you share a bed with them, it could affect you. Additionally, germs, bacteria, parasites, and fungi can spread from your dog or cat to you. 


There are many factors at play, and depending on your situation and pet, you may sleep better at night with them there. You know your pets sleeping patterns better than anyone. They may sleep soundly and never disrupt you, which would make this sleeping arrangement more beneficial than detrimental.


Another study found that when sleeping with a pet, their sleep wasn’t disrupted so it seems there is no concrete answer here.  Further, research has discovered several benefits to sleeping with a pet that could actually improve your sleep quality and mental health.


It provides a sense of companionship, security, and comfort. 


Co-Sleeping with Your Pet: Should You Do it? - It provides a sense of companionship, security and comfort

If you live alone, you may feel uneasy at night. Perhaps you sleep a little lighter because you think you need to wake up quickly if anything happens. A dog in your bed can make you feel more secure and help you sleep more deeply.  


A survey completed in 2019 of adult women discovered that sleeping with a dog in their bed provided the highest level of comfort and security when compared to sleeping with another person or a cat! Perhaps this is why they’ve been dubbed “man’s best friend.”


It improves mental health. 


Co-Sleeping with Your Pet: Should You Do it? - It improves mental health

There is plenty of research that highlights the emotional benefits of having a pet. This is why many people have emotional support animals for PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Pets have the remarkable ability to relieve anxiety and stress. If you have a pet, you have likely established strong social and emotional connections, which has a positive impact on your mental health.  


In 2012, a study found that when you are with your pet, there is a positive effect on your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. This sleeping arrangement can have lasting benefits like enhancing empathy, improving trust, and lowering aggression. Another 2016 study stated that those with long-term mental health problems should have a pet as a primary source of support.



Improving Sleep Quality For You and Your Pet


At the end of the day, you want the best for your pet and yourself. Although we often consider our pet's effect on our sleep, you could also be disrupting their sleep. Sleep is just as important to our furry companions as it is to us.


If you find your pet is awake throughout the night, consider getting them a bed of their own. Dogs can be territorial when it comes to sleeping and may not love the idea of sharing a bed (even if they love you). If you have two or more pets, you may see one growling or barking at the other pet because they have become territorial over the bed. This bedtime conflict isn’t good for anyone!


Further, our beds with our duvet, blankets and plushy mattresses can become too hot for dogs, or they may stay on high alert, nervous about being at the receiving end of a kick while you sleep. So, even if you want to keep the option of co-sleeping open, having a dog bed available to them in your room may improve sleep quality for both of you. Your dog deserves a good bed, just like you, and that was top of mind when we designed our millet hulls dog bed. Our brand new cat bed was designed for your smaller furry friend.


Our dog bed is designed for large and heavy dogs, providing them with superior support and adjustability. Filled with 100% organic millet hulls and secured in a removable waterproof and durable cotton canvas cover, this bed is both comfortable and durable. With a designated dog bed you will provide your pet with a comfortable option and a place to call their own at night.


If your pet would rather stay in bed and you sleep on the dog bed, there are ways you can compromise, and it doesn’t involve getting a bigger mattress. Sleeping with your pet can increase the temperature of your bed, which can disrupt sleep. Dogs have a higher temperature than humans, with their body temperature running about 6 degrees higher than ours. This can be great on cold nights, but with heating systems and summer nights, it can making sleeping uncomfortable. Sleep experts recommend a cooler temperature to improve sleep quality, and the type of bedding you use can help. To have a better sleep with your pet, use pillows and sheets that have a cooling effect.


For example, our cooling pillow has a specialty designed cool touch pillowcase, so it will remain cool to touch, even if you start to heat up. The buckwheat hulls filling also increases airflow through the pillow, so it will feel like you are sleeping on the cool side of your pillow all night long.  


Swap out any flannel or fleece sheets you may have and opt for something breathable and cooling like a Tencel sheet set. Tencel fabric is a unique fabric known for its superior breathability and moisture-wicking properties. In addition, it has unbeatable temperature control as it is embedded with cooling fibers that ensure you stay cool no matter what! They are also super comfortable, so you and your pet can both have a comfortable, cool sleep.   


Additionally, set some boundaries even if you are letting them sleep in your bed. For starters, don’t let them sleep under your bedding. Not only will this make you hotter, but it will make them hotter, and you may wake up to the sound of them panting. If allergies are a concern, you can also place an extra sheet over your duvet that they sleep on that is easy to take off and wash regularly.


If you prefer to sleep with your dog, you are not alone. Over 60% of dog owners co-sleep with their pet! That said, if you find you and your pet aren’t sleeping as soundly as you could be, by making the adjustments listed here, you will all have a better night’s rest, even if every night is a three-dog night.

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