Scoot Over Fido, You’re Hogging the Bed
If you enjoy cozying up with your furry family member at night, there’s no need to feel guilty about it—and you may also reap health benefits in the process!
If your nighttime routine involves snuggling into bed with your pet, you’re not alone. When I was growing up, our family dog Beau, a chocolate lab, didn’t have the luxury of co-sleeping with any of the members of the household. But if you hit the hay with your dog or cat beside you, you are among 43% of dog owners and 49% of cat owners who share their beds with a pet. If you do the math, that’s more than 60 million pets snoozing with their humans in the United States alone!
Although slumbering with pets can result in disrupted sleep, research shows that overall, the practice provides several benefits that may improve the quality of life for both you and your pet.
Benefits of sleeping with a pet
• Sleep quality may improve as the presence of a pet helps alleviate anxiety by decreasing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This calming effect can help individuals fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
• Pets can provide a sense of security and comfort, especially for those who may feel lonely or vulnerable, which is particularly beneficial for people who live alone. In a study of American women, those who slept with dogs reported feeling more secure, comfortable, and confident.
• Sleeping with pets may have a positive impact on overall health as the presence of a beloved pet eases both stress and anxiety, which are known risk factors for heart disease.
Things to consider
Keep in mind that not all pets are well-suited for co-sleeping. Factors such as aggressive pet behavior and pets with health concerns are indicators that careful thought is required before embarking on a pet bed-share. If you develop allergies from the close quarters of co-sleeping, it’s best for everyone if Fido finds a new place to snooze.
Many people can successfully share a bed with their pets by making some adjustments to their nightly routines and expectations. Remember, small children and small pets should not share the bed with others, due to the risk of injury.
What we have learned
Ultimately, the decision to sleep with pets is a personal one and will depend on individual needs and circumstances. If you enjoy cozying up with your furry family member at night, there’s no need to feel guilty about it—and you may also reap health benefits in the process!
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