Should You Sleep With Your Pet?

Pets often seek the comfort of their owners by climbing into their bed and wiggling their way under the sheets at night. According to a survey by Novosbed, 71 percent of owners sleep with their pets. Bed-sharing with pets is typically harmless, but there are a few things owners should know before inviting their furry companion onto their sleeping space.

Relaxation

Sleeping with a pet can help owners relax. Research shows that physical contact with pets promotes higher levels of oxytocin and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The combination of these biochemical processes is reduced stress and anxiety. If an owner is unable to sleep because of stress, perhaps sharing the bed can help them get a peaceful night’s rest.

Security

Dogs also make owners feel more secure when sleeping by their side. A study cited by the DailyMail found that owners who sleep with their pets feel safer and more secure, which leads to higher-quality sleep.

Sleep Disturbance

On the other hand, sharing the bed with a pet may disturb an owner’s sleep. If a dog jumps on the bed in the middle night, it may wake his owner. The Center for Sleep Medicine says that 10 percent of the clients who visited its practices in 2013 experienced disrupted sleep because of a pet. It’s safe to assume, however, that smaller breeds are less likely to create a disturbance than larger breeds.

Allergies

There’s also the issue of allergies when sleeping with a pet. Statistics show that roughly 10 percent of the population are allergic to pets. When exposed to pet allergens — pet dander, saliva or urine — these individuals may experience an allergy attack consisting of symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itching and watery eyes. Of course, owners who sleep with their pets are more likely to experience these allergy attacks because of the close proximity to their four-legged companions.

Tips for Sleeping With Pets

Owners who are thinking about sleeping with their pet should consider the effect it has on their sleep quality. If they are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, they should consider making their pet a bedding area on the floor instead.

Owners who suffer from pet allergies should invest in a high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) air filter. These air filters capture a greater amount of dust, dander and other debris from the air, thus protecting against allergy attacks.