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September 30, 2022
Are you a no-pets-allowed-in-the-bed kind of household? Or are your pets welcomed with open arms? There are pros and cons to both co-sleeping with your pets and sequestering the humans and the animals to their own sleep spaces. Here we’ll make you aware of some of those pros and cons, so you can make the best decision on sleeping arrangements for you and your fur fam!
For one, body heat! Some will tell you there’s no better feeling than that comfy cozy one that comes from snuggling up with your pooch. Co-sleeping with your pet can be great for bonding. Their presence can provide comfort and security. And there’s actually some science behind all this—just interacting with and touching animals has been proven to increase our oxytocin levels and reduce our levels of cortisol, leading to relaxation and reduction of stress. Anytime you’re just around your pet, you typically get a dose of happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which decrease loneliness and eases the effects of depression. And touching and petting dogs and cats reduces blood pressure. One can only draw the conclusion that we reap those benefits when snoozing with them.
Also being around pets in general can boost our immune systems, because they expose us to diverse bacteria. It sounds a little gross when considered in those terms, but sleeping in bed with your pet could be helping boost your immune system.
For starters, your pet bringing more microorganisms into your home and therefore your bed if you share it with them, is a double-edged sword. It can help your immune system, but it also means they can be bringing in harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. You’re in close contact with all that if you co-sleep. Your pet can transmit disease to you, and in some cases, vice versa, although it’s rare.
And be mindful of the allergy situation for both of you. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences advises against allowing pets in the bedroom at all, to avoid exposure to hair and dander as you sleep. But also where your pets are concerned—dust mites are in higher concentration in pillows and duvets than elsewhere; these can affect your pet.
Your sleep quality can also be affected. Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, which basically means they have more sleep/wake cycles throughout the night than we monophasic sleepers do. On average, a dog will have three wake/sleep cycles per nighttime hour. Not to mention, having your pet in bed with you can make you uncomfortable if your pet’s a bed-hog and you get forced into scrunched up sleep positions. People sleeping with dogs do report more disturbances in their sleep. A 2018 study found that sleeping with dogs in the bed results in “measurable, but mild reductions in overall sleep quality.” The study also found that dogs were awake 20% of the night, and that humans are 4.3 times more likely to be awake when the dog is compared to when no dogs were in the bed.
Think too about your pet’s health before making your bed everybody’s bed. If he or she is older and arthritic in the slightest, climbing onto a bed can be hard, and soft beds don’t support their aging joints sufficiently.
And one final consideration here is whether having your pet in bed will cause them to have behavioral issues. “Don’t only spoiled dogs sleep in their owners’ beds?” you might hear, or those that have their owners wrapped around their finger, or have no boundaries? The waters are muddy here. In cases of pets with behavioral issues, do they co-sleep *because* they suffer from separation anxiety, or are spoiled, or dominate their pet parents, or have behavioral issues? Or do they suffer from any of those issues *because* they co-sleep? It’s a classic chicken or the egg conundrum. But there’s no clear evidence that co-sleeping leads to all that. For a well-adjusted pet, it’s unlikely that sleeping in your bed will cause any negative behavioral issues. The fact of the matter is, co-sleeping will probably just enhance your bond! However, if your pet is being aggressive or territorial and co-sleeping is exacerbating that, you might want to stop, and/or bring in a trainer, a behavior consultant, or your veterinarian.
Speaking of your veterinarian, get set up with Bivvy pet insurance in just a couple minutes right now. For future, unexpected accidents and illnesses, Bivvy may help cover diagnostic treatment, blood tests, and surgery.
Only you can take all this into consideration, and then decide whether it’s a good idea to start, or continue, having your dog or cat in bed with you for nightly slumber parties. There’s no right or wrong per se. It’s kind of like the differences in opinions on approaching the human baby sleep setup. Some new parents swear that having their baby close by overnight helps all parties sleep more peaceably while others say having their little one in a separate bed, or even in a different room, keeps everyone from waking each other up and helps all wake up feeling refreshed—decide whether for you and your fur fam, the benefits of sharing a bed outweigh the risks. And factor in your particular dog or cat, his or her personality, and your relationship.
Almost half of pet owners report sharing their bed or at least their bedroom with a pet. So you’re far from alone if you do it. If it will be a boon to you and your beloved pet’s bond, doesn’t pose any major risks or prevent you from getting the rest you need, and your spouse is onboard, we say go for it! Remember to equip yourself with the best dog insurance! Bivvy’s affordable pet insurance costs less than $1 per day – that means a lot of money saved for a king-sized plush mattress for you and a furry friend or two.