|A recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association reported that almost half of the dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. / Photo by: soloway via 123rf|
There’s nothing quite like a pet for a companion. They bring us comfort and security. They cheer us up when we’re down.
However, there will be times that owners have to leave them at home, which is why some let their pets sleep with them on their bed to maximize their time with each other. But is there a downside to letting them sleep on our beds?
Worry not. Experts said sleeping with our pets is fine. In fact, it is now a new concept. A study published in the journal Human Nature revealed that some traditional cultures considered co-sleeping with animals as beneficial. For instance, Aboriginal Australians usually slept beside their pets for warmth and protection from evil spirits. Even today, a lot of owners have made their beloved companions sleep with them at night.
According to Pet WebMD, an online site that provides comprehensive information about pet healthcare, a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association reported that almost half of the dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. The researchers discovered that 62 percent of small dogs, 41 percent of medium-sized dogs, and 32 percent of large dogs sleep with their owners. Moreover, 62 percent of cats sleep with their adult owners while 13 percent sleep with children.
“Sleeping with your pet is an important ritual for many people. It doesn’t need to be avoided if both pet and owner are healthy,” Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a staff doctor at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, said.
Benefits of Sleeping With Pets
One of the major reasons why owners let their pets sleep on their bed is that they feel secure and protected with them near. Aside from that, here are other benefits of sleeping with pets.
1. Better emotional bond
Pets are usually very clingy to their owners. They want to be near them most of the time. Thus, sleeping with their owners makes them happy. According to Tuck, an online site that provides evidence-based and data-driven articles, sleeping with pets can increase intimacy. Kate Mornement, an animal behaviorist, stated that pets like to be in bed with us because it's warm and cozy. They associate beds with positive things like affection and company.
2. Warmth and comfort
Our pet’s warmth and rhythmic breathing while sleeping can provide a soothing effect that lulls us to sleep. They can give us a great sleep since they have warmer body temperatures compared to humans. A previous study revealed that sleep efficiency of owners and dogs scored 81 percent and 85 percent, respectively. A sleep-efficiency score of 80 percent or higher is considered to be indicative of a good night's rest. Also, 41 percent of the owners see their pets as unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep.
3. Reduced stress
Stress, depression, and anxiety are some of the reasons why people have difficulty falling asleep or suffering from insomnia. Inviting pets into your bed can help in relieving these feelings because they provide a sense of calm and relief. This helps in counteracting anxious thoughts associated with sleep-onset insomnia. Just being able to touch them increases the level of oxytocin in our brains and makes us feel good.
4. Social support
Sometimes, owners let their pets sleep in their bed with them because they like knowing that another creature is nearby. There’s something about having a companion in bed that can make it easier to fall asleep and sleep well. Knowing your pet is nearby may improve your sleep simply because of their presence.
|Sometimes, owners let their pets sleep in their bed with them because they like knowing that another creature is nearby. / Photo by: ulkas via 123rf|
Downsides of Sleeping With Pets
Unfortunately, sleeping with pets can also have several negative impacts. Here are some of them:
1. Health concerns
Perhaps the greatest concern pet owners have about sleeping with the animal is that they might catch a disease from them. Indeed, they can carry various bacteria and parasites, some of which can be transferred to humans. For instance, owners can acquire staphylococcus (skin infections) and parasite diseases, a result of close contact between humans and pets. However, this kind of situation rarely happens.
2. Pets might disturb your sleep
Unfortunately, owners might be disturbed with their sleep because pets, especially dogs, are active about 20 percent of the night. According to Hills Pet, an American pet food company, dogs sometimes get up and patrol the house or get a drink of water if they're free to do so. Also, a previous study showed that co-sleeping with pets can cause “relatively mild reductions in overall sleep quality.”
|Owners might be disturbed with their sleep because pets, especially dogs, are active about 20 percent of the night. / Photo by: Simona Pilolla via 123rf|
3. Aggravates pet allergies and asthma
Owners who have asthma and allergies to dogs and cats shouldn’t let their pets sleep in the same bed with them because this would only trigger the allergies. Although you may not be allergic to them, they often pick up and carry other allergens such as grass and pollen. There’s a high possibility that you’ll have difficulty sleeping.
Overall, it’s up to the owners if they will let their pets sleep with them. But, they should make sure that this will not compromise both of their sleep.