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The Pros and Cons of Sharing a Bed With Your Pets

A couple sharing a bed with a dog

A couple sharing a bed with a dog

Pet owners all over the world are well known for feeling that their animal companions are more like people and members of the family than like simple pets.

We share scraps of our favorite meals with them, play together, hang out watching movies together and, yes, even sleep in the same bed.

As it turns out, nearly 80% of pet owners allow their pets up on the bed and to snooze with human family members. It can be a warm and enjoyable way to take a nap, but there is also an extensive debate as to how good an idea of sleeping with your pet is. Some people feel that it degrades training and discipline while sleep researchers have insisted in the past that sharing a bed with your pets can degrade your sleep quality as well.

We know you enjoy warm naps and an eager companion for midnight trips to the fridge, so today we're going to clear up this little question.

Should you let your dog or cat sleep on the bed with you at night? As it turns out, the answer mostly depends on the individual pets and owners.

The Warm and Snuggly Factor

Let's start with the fact that almost every pet owner already knows: pets make excellent bed companions, at least when they can hold still. It's deeply comforting to have a warm mammal curled up at your feet or lying against your legs while you sleep. Humans have been sleeping near their dogs and cats for centuries, if not longer, and we're still comforted by the idea of having a companion and guard animal nearby.

Some pets are like toddlers and will want to sleep right between you and your partner while others fill the role of 'second person' by providing singles with a warm non-judgemental companion. The fact of the matter is that most pet owners enjoy letting their pets join them on the bed for sleeping and have noticed no particular behavioral issues associated unless you count pets feeling welcome on the bed.

Sleep Quality vs. Pet Activity

Okay, so pets are great sleeping companions for cuddly reasons, but what about sleep quality? The biggest objection to sharing sleeping space with your pets is about the nighttime activity. Pets don't always have the same sleeping schedules as we do and they sometimes move around a lot during a sleep cycle even if they stay on the bed.

Researchers have found that movements of pets allowed on the bed can wake their owners up, reducing the quality of their sleep. Most pet owners are at least vaguely aware of this now science-backed issue but choose to take the hit to sleep quality to improve their emotional state through pet snuggling. Many feel that it's better to wake up happy and feeling safe rather than sleeping more deeply and waking up to feel lonely.

Dogs, especially larger dogs, are more likely to sleep still through the night without causing problems while cats are more likely to get up in the night and wake you slightly when they do so. It is also apparent that people who tend to have sleep trouble related to pets are also more likely to have multiple pets that may be in and out of bed during the night.

Cleanliness Concerns

The second major concern is cleanliness. The vast majority of household pets get baths regularly, are pest-free, and up to date on shots, but there are still some concerns about anywhere a furry creature sleeps

First off, finding fur where you sleep is always an itchy situation. Most pet owners already take some effort to keep their pets on the blanket and away from the actual sheets. It's also essential that your pet remain free of fleas, ticks, and other pests that could jump from them to the bed to you.

To make sure that sharing a bed with your pets is safe from a health standpoint, be sure to keep both your pets and your bedding very clean with weekly washings to clear out the fur, grime, bits of grass, and other things that could be uncomfortable or uncleanly.

What About Napping?

One interesting factor in regards to napping is that while pets in the bed with you can (if they're not deep sleepers) interrupt long sleep cycles, they're perfect partners for short naps. Your circadian rhythm for sleep benefits if you never take a nap longer than 20 minutes during the day so that you want to sleep by bedtime.

If you do decide to take the opportunity for an afternoon nap on the couch or bed, having a pet join you is a great way to get comfy and to make sure you don't fall asleep too deeply or for too long.

Pet Beds in the Bedroom

A few years ago, people thought that even allowing pets into the bedroom could interrupt your sleep and decrease your sleep quality, but recent studies have proved this theory false. While sharing a bed with your pets will likely wake you up and keep you up, a pet with their bed on the floor in the bedroom or even a pet bed tucked into the end of your bed is much less likely to interrupt your sleep while still sharing their loving companionship.

For larger dogs that tend to move around, consider a large pet bed next to your bed while cats and smaller dogs might be happy with a unique spot that is 'their place' at the end of the bed where they're less likely to nudge you with nighttime activity. If you like having your pet nearby but want to increase your sleep quality, consider a cute new pet bed nearby.

You and Your Pet

Should you let your pet come up on the bed to sleep at night? It is a question only you can answer for yourself or together with your partner. If your pet is clean, healthy, and sleeps still through most of the night, then your sleep is likely as good or better with them. However, if you have an active pet who moves around a lot or needs to get comfortable every few hours, you may be better off setting them up a nice squishy pet bed near you so you can spend quality sleep time with your pet without interrupting each other's actual sleep.

For more great tips, tricks, and trends for healthy sleep to suit your lifestyle, contact us today!