Some pet lovers are inseparable from their animal companions. They share their everyday lives and activities with their pets, whether it's time for a walk in the park, a snack, or a workout. Because of this companionship, pet owners regard their animal friends as part of their families, equally deserving love and care.
Therefore, they would do anything to make them feel comfortable, including sharing a bed as part of their personal preference. However, the numerous debates on sharing a bed with pets have left many owners of pets uncertain about its benefits and drawbacks.
Whether or not you can co sleep with your pet depends on several factors regarding pet ownership. This article explains everything you need to know about human-animal co-sleeping.
According to research published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings peer-reviewed clinical journal, 56% of pet owners love to co sleep with their pets. Additionally, 86% of puppies - the most popular pet worldwide - prefer to co sleep with their owners. This remarkable pet-human sleep bond has several benefits.
However, animal experts advise against co-sleeping with some types of pets, or under certain circumstances. Before we discuss that, here are the benefits of sleeping with the most common household pets, dogs and cats.
Pets, such as dogs and cats, are great companions. Besides spending the day together, pets can cuddle and snuggle with their owners through the night, decreasing loneliness and anxiety.
Cuddling with furry pets like cats and dogs can keep animal owners warm during cold nights. Such pets usually have a higher body temperature than humans, and can insulate their bodies and surroundings to stay warm.
Studies have shown that people who perform several activities with their dogs tend to have lower risks of depression. For example, sleeping with a pet dog or cat helps sleepers with anxiety or stress fall asleep faster. This happens because sleeping with pets increases the flow of the love chemical known as oxytocin. As a result, owners of pets feel secure, happier, and less stressed.
You may have heard stories of how pets saved the lives of their owners from danger, such as accidental fires and attacks, while they were asleep. Given that pets instinctively protect their owners from harm, many owners feel more secure sleeping with their pets at night than when they are out in their kennel or their own bed.
Cuddling and snuggling with your pet dog or cat helps you fall asleep easier, increases comfort, reduces nightmares, improves sleep quality, and helps ease the impact of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sleeping next to your fur baby also feels cozier, warmer, and promotes deep sleep.
Animal experts believe that the bond between canines and humans dates back to centuries ago when humans and dogs spent nights together in the cold to keep themselves warm and secure. As a result, dogs perceived humans as members of their pack, which gradually enhanced the bond between dogs and men.
The same theory is still applicable today.
Co-sleeping with your pet strengthens the bond between you and your pet. It also builds trust, making it easier to socialize with the pet.
A study by the American Heart Association found that patients who owned pets had lower risks of cardiovascular disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. The study suggests that many pet owners live a healthier life because their pets keep them active during the day through exercises, such as playing and routine walks.
Additionally, pets also help their owners to relax, and lower their blood pressure levels while sleeping. New dog owners, for example, may develop a synchronized heartbeat with their pets when asleep, which in turn may promote a healthier heart, lower blood pressure, and deep sleep. They also may feel less stress.
Sleeping with pets also has its drawbacks for pet owners. They include:
Nocturnal pets, such as cats, sleep more during the day, and prefer playing and jumping around at night. As a result, sharing a bed with such pets can disrupt you from catching a deep relaxing sleep, or even wake up a sleeping infant. In addition, some pets with heightened senses, such as dogs, can disrupt your sleep when they bark at night. Others snore, burp, or occupy your part of the bed, making it uncomfortable for the pet owner to sleep.
If you sleep with a pet that’s not trained to go to the bathroom outside, they may soil your bed, causing ugly stains and unpleasant odors in your bedroom. These stains are harder to clean off some bedding, and if they get absorbed deep into a mattress, the odors may linger on for several days or months.
Pets carry pet dander and other allergens on their bodies, and transfer them onto your bed when sleeping. Unfortunately, these microorganisms are more difficult to eliminate, and may continue to live in your mattress for a long time.
If you're prone to allergies, sharing a bed with your pets can trigger allergic reactions, such as breathing difficulties, itchy skin, red eyes, and a running nose.
If your pet is fond of nibbling and chewing their toys and anything they can play with, they may try nibbling your pillows, covers, or mattress as well. They can also destroy your fluffy down pillows, tear through your mattress, or scratch your bed while playing.
Pets can transmit parasites such as fleas, lice, worms, and mites to a sleeper. However, that's unlikely to happen if you treat your pets with preventive medication and regular vet visits to ensure they are up to date with their vaccines, including tick treatments, and more.
There are some circumstances where sharing a bed with your pet may not be a great idea, despite all the benefits we've discussed so far. Some of these circumstances include:
If you have respiratory problems, such as asthma, sleeping with your pets can trigger or worsen your condition. Pet dander left behind by these animals mix with air particles you inhale, increasing your exposure to allergens.
If you're a pet lover with such a condition, consider keeping your pets away from your bedroom, and using a high-quality air purifier to clean the air around your home.
It takes about 4 to 8 weeks or more to potty-train a new puppy before letting them share your bed with you. Before then, your pet may have accidents on your bed, resulting in ugly stains and unpleasant odors.
Additionally, scent rubbing mammals, such as cats and dogs, mark their territories with their natural scents, including sprinkling urine all over their surroundings. These pets can extend their boundaries to your bed, causing it to smell.
Exotic pets include a variety of animals ranging from reptiles, birds, rodents, and aquatic animals. Some tiny pets such as rats, hamsters, and gerbils disappear under the heavy bedding, and risk suffocation. Snake pets, such as pythons, can slither away unnoticed. Unlike domestic small animals, some exotic pets also tend to have wild instincts, and may attack their owners or other members of the same household.
Light sleepers get distracted by slight noises and movements. Such sleepers may find it difficult to fall asleep in the company of their pets. Given that some pets are polyphasic sleepers, they may wake up several times in the night, and distract the sleep patterns of their owners.
Sleep disruption is dangerous to a sleeper's overall health. Other than general fatigue, it is linked to many other sleep disorders such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and Restless Leg Syndrome.
Physicians generally advise sleepers with weak immune systems against sleeping with pets because of the health issues that may arise from doing so. Examples of high-risk sleepers include the elderly, patients with HIV/AIDs, and pregnant women. Such sleepers are at a higher risk of contracting animal-transmitted diseases, such as flu, bovine tuberculosis, anthrax, and fever.
Scientists continually study the relationship between humans and their pets, and how they affect their well-being. The majority of reports seem to indicate that the benefits of sleeping with pets outweigh their disadvantages. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the studies overlook the possible dangers pets owners face when sharing their beds with their animal companions.
Here are some scientific explanations of why pets sleeping on your bed is good for your overall health.
Several studies have linked pets to positive changes in mental health, as owners of pets report being comfortable and happier in the company of their pets. For example, a study by the University of Alberta found that patients with chronic pain had lower heart rates, reduced stress, and comfort when sleeping with their pets. Therefore, they can be a natural stress self-management, too.
Another study showed that sleepers who share their beds with their pets have an above-average satisfactory sleep efficiency percentage. That means they experience better sleep quality, and receive more sleep benefits than sleepers without pets.
Studies show that owners of pets exercise more often than those without these animal friends. For example, dog owners have their fair share of exercise when taking their dogs for routine walks. Dog ownership can also lead to increased interaction with other owners within their social circles, which helps boost their social life. Such a lifestyle decreases cholesterol levels, stress, and loneliness among dog owners.
Some studies suggest that early childhood pet companionship may prevent the development of atopic disorders, such as allergy-triggered asthmas. It also helps children sleep better when the pet is in the child’s bedroom, promoting positive growth and brain development.
There are a few concerns about co-sharing a bed with pets, though. For example, allergy-prone animal owners may use allergy medication every so often to treat their allergies. However, some studies don’t recommend relying on sleep medicine, as continuous exposure to allergens may require increased dosages for the sleep medicine to be effective.
Talk to a sleep medicine specialist for further guidance if necessary.
Some pets may develop behavioral problems, such as separation anxiety and aggression. For example, a pet may become too fond of its owners and their sleeping space, and may react aggressively to keep its sleeping spot. Because of this behavior, pet owners may find it is difficult to move the pet to their own bed when needed.
If you choose to sleep with your pet, here are a few tips to guide you:
The size of your mattress determines whether you have enough room for you and your pets. You may need a larger bed if you sleep with more than one pet, to avoid feeling uncomfortable on your bed because of limited space.
You need to change and wash your bedding more often to kill germs, parasites, and allergens. This routine cleanup reduces the chances of allergic triggers to sensitive sleepers.
A mattress protector keeps your mattress clean and free of allergens and parasites that transfer from your pets. It also makes it easier to clean your bedding as often as you should.
Train your pets to know which side of the bed they can or can't occupy while sleeping. This training controls their behavior and attachment to you, and prevents aggression and separation anxiety in the future.
The only effective way to avoid potty accidents is by training your family pet on what to do when they need to go to the bathroom. For example, you may train your dog to alert you when they need to go, or have your cat use the litter bin whenever necessary.
Ensure that the litter bin is easily accessible and secluded for best results. Most pets, especially cats, are shy, and wouldn't go to the bathroom if watched or interrupted.
A healthy pet is less likely to transmit parasites and diseases to its owner. Keeping your pet's health in check through regular pet visits makes it safer to share a bed with the pet.
Bedtime routine teaches your pet when to be active, and when it needs to rest. For example, evening walks allow the pet to release the extra energy before bedtime, reducing nighttime sleep disruptions.
Besides cats and dogs, sleepers keep different animal species as pets. These pets have varying characteristics and behaviors, and may not be as friendly as the usual furry friends. For example, some pet iguanas aren't fond of cuddling like cats and dogs, and may not like sharing the same room or bed with their owners. They can also grow large and strong, and may exhibit aggressive behavior when irritated.
Additionally, some pets may not be comfortable on your bed for various reasons. For example, your dog may resist sharing your bed with you if they're already accustomed to their kennel or dog bed. Your cat may also resist sharing the bed with you because of the different sleeping patterns between humans and animals.
Talk to an animal expert on the best way of keeping your animal friend comfortable at night if sharing a bed isn't a good option for you and your pet.
We've answered some common questions about sharing the same bed with pets.
It's not clear whether sleeping with your dog can cause behavioral issues. However, sleeping with your dog increases the bond between you and your dog, and they may become overly attached to you. As a result, dogs may react aggressively when you attempt to separate them from your bed.
Routine training is the key to having a well-behaved dog. For best results, consider giving small dogs to large dogs treats to reward them for their good behavior.
If you're planning to invite your pet companion to your bed, you should consider finding a mattress that suits your comfort needs. Firstly, you may require a larger mattress to accommodate both you and your pet, but that's not all. There are several other factors to consider.
As discussed before, some pets move around during bedtime, disrupting your sleep in the middle of the night. Therefore, you may want to avoid a bouncy mattress that causes a lot of motion transfer with slight movement when sleeping with your dog or any other pet. Instead, consider a latex mattress that typical has low or no motion transfer.
Most pets also have a higher body temperature than humans. Although this temperature helps keep the pets warm during a cold night, it may cause discomfort during hotter months, because of too much heat. In such cases, heat-trapping mattresses can make the situation worse for sleepers, and may cause dehydration and overheating in pets. Natural latex mattress sleep cool, thanks to their open cell technology and remarkable airflow.
You may need a hypoallergenic mattress, such as a natural hybrid latex mattress, to help you manage allergens and microorganisms when sharing a bed with a pet. A hypoallergenic mattress is naturally resistant to allergens, such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, molds, and mildews. As a result, such mattresses make it easier to control the allergen population on your bed, reducing the chances of allergic reactions.
The Eco Terra Hybrid Latex Mattress provides more than comfort for both you and your pet, ensuring that you enjoy all the sleep benefits of your bedtime companionship.
This mattress contains 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and wool. These three materials are naturally resistant to allergens, ideal for creating a hypoallergenic mattress.
Besides allergy resistance, these materials are also breathable, and great at regulating sleepers' temperatures. Latex has an open-cell structure that allows air to flow freely through the mattress. The cotton and wool cover wicks moisture from the sleeper during hot nights to keep them cool. During the cold season, tiny air particles trapped in the wool fibers insulate the sleepers to keep them warm.
Eco Terra Hybrid Mattresses come in six different sizes, featuring Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, and California King sizes. This variety makes it easier to pick the perfect bed size for you and your pet, guaranteeing uninterrupted sleep.
If buying a new mattress isn't feasible, you may change how your old mattress feels using the 100% Natural Latex Topper from Eco Terra, and still enjoy restful sleep. This topper does more than change the firmness level of your mattress.
The latex topper improves the breathability of your mattress, and helps regulate your body temperature while you sleep. In addition, since natural latex is hypoallergenic, the topper makes it easier to manage allergens, such as pet dander left behind by your furry friend. This topper is also available in different sizes, thicknesses, and firmness levels.
To sum up, sleeping with a pet is generally considered safe, provided the issues discussed in this article are addressed. For example, the type and quality of the mattress determines whether you’ll have a good sleep, or regret inviting your pet to bed. So, if you’re looking for the best mattress for you and your pet, Eco Terra Beds has plenty of options to choose from. Besides being affordable, Eco Terra Beds mattresses are of the highest quality, customized for the ultimate sleep experience for you and your furry friend.