The environment you create for your sleep drastically alters the condition of your sleep; sometimes in beneficial ways, sometimes in not so beneficial, sleep-disrupting ways. When it comes to giving your pets permission to share your mattress with you, there tends to be a little bit of both. But since saying no to your favorite “cuddler” when you jump into bed at night can be hard, here’s what you need to know about letting your pet climb into your sheets with you every night.
A study conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) found that 62% of the pet-owning fraction of the nation allows their dog or cat to sleep in the house when dusk hits. Of that 62%, half of the cat-owning population and one-third of the dog-owning population admitted to allowing their pet to sleep with them in bed at night.
Here’s the good news: a simple caress of a pet releases oxytocin, the hormone – often nicknamed the “Love Hormone” – discharged from the pituitary gland and related to human behaviors that are associated with social bonding and relationships. Allowing your pet into your bed at night not only calms you, but also adds warmth on those chilly nights. Dr. Lisa Shives, Director of Northshore Sleep Medicine believes that “there are all kinds of medical benefits to having a pet. And some people may feel safer or calmer with a dog in their bed.”
But with the pros of having your best friend to cuddle up to every night, come, unfortunately, the cons. In some cases, sleeping with your pet in bed may actually end up meaning you not sleeping at all. A Mayo Clinic study, based on the statistic that 53% of pet owners permit their animals to sleep in their bed (as opposed to APPMA’s 62%), claimed that 20% of owners reported that their beloved pets were disruptive in the night. Large dogs are the equivalent to having a second or third person in your bed at night, and cats have a habit of pouncing on you when they want you to wake up.
Then there’s the issue of allergies and asthma that some pet owners may suffer from. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America strongly urges sensitive pet owners to keep pets out of the bedroom in general, since about one-third of every day is generally spent inside that room. Since animal allergens easily stick to the carpet and sheets, it is just better off for you to keep that door closed at all times!
Bottom line? Sleeping with a pet is different for everyone, and sometimes it works, while other times it might be better to avoid. To see where you fall, try inviting your pet into bed and see how your sleep responds to having a furry friend to cuddle up with. If the arrangement seems to be working fine, then no need to make a change. But if you find yourself struggling to catch some shuteye, then your pet may have to spend the night in his or her own bed.