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Every dog owner wants to spend as much time with their beloved pet as possible. We all love our fur babies, but, if you live a busy life it can be difficult to find the extra time to be close to them. From my personal experience with a full-time job, two kids and a husband the only time I felt like I could spend quality time with McGuire was while sleeping. Cuddling and sleeping with your dog seems like a win-win situation, right? For years it was the popular opinion that letting your canine companion sleep with you was an unhealthy, or potentially dangerous thing for both you and your dog.
Well, have no fear because sharing a bed could be beneficial to both of you. Especially if you and your pet are both healthy. If you are currently sleeping with your dog, or want to, then go for it. But, if you have any hesitation weigh all of the pros and cons for yourself. We have made it easy below with the facts and studies as well as the pros and cons of sharing your bed with your four legged friend.
Facts & Stats on Sleeping with Your Dog:
If you have already let your furry friend sleep in the bed with you then take comfort that you are not alone. Surveys that have been conducted by the American Kennel Club have shown that around 45 percent of dog owners have allowed their dogs to sleep in bed with them. Only around 20 percent of pet owners put their dogs in a crate at bedtime and around 17 percent used a dog bed located somewhere else in the home.
Recent research has been published by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings research team. Proceedings addressing the topic of sleeping in the same bed with your dog. In surveys, 53 percent of pet owners reported that their pets woke them up at least once per night. The Mayo Clinic research team looked into the impact of these sleep disturbances on a person’s overall sleep quality.
The researchers measured the movement in both the humans and animals by using actimeters over a seven-day period. A healthy sleep efficiency for a human is 80 percent or better. The study found that having a dog in the bedroom maintained an 83 percent sleep efficiency but allowing the dog to sleep in the bed with a human only maintained an 80 percent efficiency.
Studies on Sleeping with Your Dog
Having your dog with you in bed can disturb your sleep, but the researchers reported the effects of that drop in efficiency is minimal. One of the reasons for these disturbances is that a dog’s sleep cycle is much different from a human. Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning they have multiple sleep cycles in a day. With an average of at leas three extended periods of sleep in a day. Humans on the other hand are monophasic sleepers. Usually only having one period of sleep in a 24-hour period of time. Learn more about your sleep cycle HERE!
Another reason for the disturbances is how alert dogs are even during sleep. Though this may be great from a protection standpoint it does cause them to wake easier than their human counterparts. Even for minimal sounds that you would suspect they would never hear. Making even sleeping through a rainy night difficult for everyone.
History of Sleeping with Your Dog:
Sleeping with your pet isn’t just a modern trend either, sharing a bed with a pet has been going on for quite some time. A study published by the journal Human Nature pointed out that some cultures even considered sleeping with their animals as beneficial. For example, Aboriginal Australians slept with their dogs for warmth and protection from evil spirits.
And I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Three dog night.” This used to be a popular expression to describe a cold night where sled dog drivers would have to sleep with their dogs for warmth against the chilly arctic air.
These are just a few examples of humans sharing their bed with dogs in the past. And show us how and why sleeping with your dog now is not just an emotional attachment but has some engrained survival aspects too.
Pros of Sleeping With Your Dog:
Most pet owners just love to have their furry companions nearby, even while they are asleep. Dogs can help us relax and being near them can increase the flow of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes happiness, relaxation, and affection. This naturally draws us to having them around all the time, even when sleeping. Your dog can also make you feel less vulnerable while being alone in the dark, giving you a better sense of security.
If you are frequently cold at night then letting your pup into bed with you may fix your heating problem. Big fluffy dogs are like sleeping with a radiator in bed with you. Snuggling up with them on a cold night just feels warm and toasty. A dog’s body temperature can average six degrees higher than a human’s body temperature. This is especially comforting in winter, colder climates, or one of the “Three dog nights”. It also might be beneficial to your dog too. If they like to be warm you may be their answer to better sleep too.
There is nothing like going to sleep with the comforting feeling of a dog curled up at your feet. Dogs are highly alert for any noises even in sleep and will wake to any strange disturbances. Your beloved canine can be the best security alarm if something is wrong in the house, such as a break in or fire. This allows you to sleep peacefully knowing your dog is there to watch over you both while you rest. They also provide an an emotional security too. Giving you peace of mind that lets you fully sleep.
4. Reduces separation anxiety:
If your dog suffers from a separation anxiety disorder, especially at night, then allowing it to at least sleep in the room with you will help calm it down. Having you in close proximity to them will make them feel loved and safe. While it won’t fix the issue of separation anxiety it will at least give your dog some relief from the effects of anxiety. This can be especially helpful if your dog tends to wine a lot at night or even become destructive. While once sleeping with your dog was thought to cause separation anxiety there have not been any proven links between separation anxiety and sharing a bed with your pup.
5. Helps with Insomnia:
If you have trouble sleeping like me then letting your dog into bed can be therapeutic. Once your dog falls asleep then its soft rhythmic breathing can help lull you to sleep and has been proven to slow a human’s heart rate. Some people even find their pets snoring to be calming and it can act as white noise to help them fall asleep. Knowing they are there can give you the peace of mind to rest through the night.
6. Strengthen bond:
Sharing a bed with your pup may increase the bond you have with it. The extra cuddle time will be appreciated by you and your pet. You are trusting it while you are at your most vulnerable and in turn, they are trusting you. Sharing your bed can increase your dogs feeling that it is part of your family.
7. Second Alarm Clock:
Most dog owners have a morning routine to care for their animals. Your pup knows when it’s feeding time or when you usually get up to take it for its morning walk. If you do sleep in too late and miss the alarm a second one will be there to lick you awake. This one won’t have a snooze button either, just a wagging tail waiting to greet you. Who doesn’t want to wake up to a happy face and a wagging tail?
8. Ease Loneliness:
If you live by yourself it can get a bit lonely. Having your furry companion close eases that loneliness and can calm you. Your pup will want to snuggle up close to you. If you find yourself having a particularly lonely night, allowing your pup to sleep with you can remedy it. It can fill that empty spot on your bed with a nonjudgmental warm companion who is just happy to be on a comfy bed.
9. Companion to children:
Dogs can be great protectors for children who are afraid to sleep at night. As a parent, you will probably want to be cautious about allowing your dog to sleep in a child’s room. It’s not recommended for children under the age of six and you will need to ensure the child is responsible enough. They must understand not to rough house with the animal and give the dog space when it complains. Having the dog in their room can ease their fears and allow them to get a good night’s rest.
10. It will make your dog happy:
Your furry companion is always happy to see you and just loves to be around you, so inviting it into the bed to sleep at night will make it that much happier. The pup will enjoy your comfortable bed just as much as you do. It will just be glad to feel loved and to get the extra attention. As well as ease any anxiety they might have. And keep them extra warm and loved.
Cons of Sleeping With Your Dog:
1. Impact on sleep:
Since dogs have different sleeping patterns than humans, they disturb our rest more than we think. They wake up and move around much more than we do at night. While the impact is small some people will just need that extra 3 percent sleep efficiency to function the next day. If you already have trouble sleeping then let your pup sleep on a dog bed in the room so you both can still get the benefits of each others company.
2. Disease transfer and risk of ticks or fleas:
The risk of transferring a disease between humans and canines is very low. As long as you and your dog are both healthy and clean there should be no issues. Ticks and fleas can be another problem. Be sure to have all your pets on a flea and tick preventative and check your pup for them regularly. You don’t want to wake up with a tick on you and flea bites will quickly ruin cuddles.
3. Fur everywhere:
Allowing your pup into bed will show you just how much it sheds. If you have darker bed sheets and blankets this will become obvious very quickly. You will find yourself washing your bedding at least once every few days just to get rid of all the fur that has coated it. This isn’t the only thing your dog brings in either, smells from your dog’s explorations and dirt can be a factor as well. All of this will be an even bigger issue if you have allergies to your pet’s hair.
4. Bed hogs:
This will be a big problem if you have a small bed or if you sleep with a partner. Once your dog is comfortable sleeping with you, they will start to stretch out while sleeping. While this can be a sign that they trust you completely, if you have a bigger dog, it can get very crowded on the bed. You may wake up because your dog has inadvertently pushed you to the edge of the bed or shoved its paws into your back.
5. Wake up too early:
If your canine has to go out for a bathroom break or decides you have overslept past feeding time, it may decide to wake you up itself. This can be rough if you had a long night and just want to sleep in. Your dog might start to bark at you and some dog owners just don’t like being licked awake by an impatient pup. It’s unavoidable if your dog sleeps in the same room as you. You may even find that your dog wants you to get up every time they do which can be an extremely annoying circumstance when you have work in 4 hours.
6. Too Hot:
If you run hot while you sleep then the extra body heat of your pet may be too much for you to handle. This is amplified by summer weather and hot climates. You may find yourself pushing your pup away at night, kicking off the blankets, and sweating too much. These disturbances may ruin your sleep and cause you to reconsider allowing your pet in bed. If you are a warm sleeper it will be best to let your dog sleep on a separate bed.
Dogs snore and sometimes it can be very loud. While this may seem cute at first it will lose its charm around three in the morning when you have to work early that day. If you have a bigger dog that snores, you will sleep better if you give them their own bed to sleep in away from yours. This will put distance between you and the noise, giving you a much better night of rest.
8. Separating you and your partner:
If you share your bed with a significant other then beware. Your dog may decide it wants to sleep closer to you and will squeeze itself in between the two of you. This may not be too much of a problem if you have a small dog or a very large bed, but if you have a full-size bed and a St. Bernard, it can be very crowded. If you still want your dog to stay in the bed consider a large mattress. Keep in mind your partner’s feelings and don’t share the bed if one of you is uncomfortable with it.
9. Increased allergies:
If you have allergies to your pets’ fur or dander than allowing it to sleep with you will only worsen them. The allergens even being in the room can have a negative impact on your sleep and they can remain strong for months at a time. Take special care if you have a child that has these allergies. The allergens can and will cling to furniture, clothing, and other surfaces. It’s suggested that you make the entire bedroom a pup-free zone so that you and your family can enjoy the time with your pet and not just be suffering continuously.
10. Active dreaming:
In my experience, some dogs are very active dreamers. They will bark, growl, howl, and even kick their legs as if they are running. It may be cute to watch your pup napping on the floor and chasing the mailman in its sleep, but it becomes an issue when your dog accidentally kicks you in the face while you’re asleep. Dogs can also have nightmares and just like humans who awake from a scary dream, they can sometimes lash out if you wake them from one. If you are woken up by a doggy nightmare, wait for them to wake up and comfort them.
Dog Bed Instead?
Does sleeping with your dog seem like too much of a hassle? Well, maybe you can have the best of both worlds. Keep them close by but in style and comfort. With so many pet beds on the market, finding the perfect one should be easy.
The My Pillow Dog Bed is a great option. With multiple colors you’ll find the perfect compliment to your bedroom. While the Purple Dog Bed uses it’s innovative materials to give your dog the latest technology advanced bed too. And even the Casper Dog Bed will have your pooch dreaming in their own comfy bed in no time. Each available in different sizes that offer their own unique benefits for your dogs best night sleep too!
To Sleep or Not to Sleep:
Those are both our pros and cons for allowing your furry friend to share a bed with you. There are many factors to consider before letting your favorite canine share a bed with you, such as home size, animal size, and how many animals you have. You wouldn’t want three Saint Bernards trying to squeeze into bed with you.
These tips are just a few to help you make an informed decision that makes your family and your furry companion happy. Both of you will appreciate a comfy bed and a healthier life. In our home, we feel the benefits of sleeping with your dog greatly outweigh the problems that come with it.
Check out this article if you want general tips for better sleep