Should I Let My Dog Sleep in Bed With Me?
Should I let my dog sleep with me? It's a common question among pet owners. Those seeking answers have likely encountered arguments from both sides of the fence. Below, we'll introduce you to the benefits - and potential disadvantages - of letting your dog sleep in bed with you.
Benefits of Sleeping With Your Dog
According to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association, the majority of American households are pet owners. More than half of them have dogs, and 43% are sleeping in bed with them. Why? The benefits of co-sleeping speak for themselves. Read on for some reasons why you might let your dog sleep in your bed.
Many people have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. The billion-dollar sleep market is proof of it. But sleeping in bed with your dog might help things improve.
Sleep Review suggests that dogs can ease insomnia by helping mitigate anxiety and modifying hyperarousal and hypervigilance which can create a more amenable mood for sleep. It also creates a greater sense of safety for those who are uneasy in the dark and who tend to phase-reverse to dodge nighttime sleep.
Having your dog sleep in your bed may also help your mental health in other ways. Pet interactions help release the hormone oxytocin which is responsible for regulating emotions like love, trust, recognition, attachment, social support, and sexual arousal.
Oxytocin also likely plays a role in depression, a mood disorder that is accompanied by chemical imbalances in the brain. The condition also happens to be a leading cause of insomnia. The more interaction you have with your dog, the more likely you are to release chemicals that can help ward off depression and help you secure a good night's sleep. Sometimes, that might mean bringing them to bed with you.
Our beloved pets aren't just good for cuddling and snuggling - they're also good at protecting us. One study found that the presence of dogs has an impact on women's sleep quality, making them feel more secure and comfortable. Thanks to their protective instincts, dogs can help prevent anything untoward from happening as you sleep.
Millennials are by far the loneliest generation. They also make up the bigger chunk of pet owners. Coincidence? We think not.
PAWS trial surveyed three groups of Sydney adults; people who bought dogs within one month of the study, people who were interested in getting a dog but agreed not to get one during the study, and people who had zero interest in getting a dog. The trial found that new dog owners were far less lonely than the other two groups.
Another study found that owning pets lessens feelings of loneliness among seniors. Now if mere ownership attenuates loneliness by a significant degree, how much more could cuddling do for you?
If you live alone, having a dog by your side can provide the greatest comfort. The way they ease your mind, calm you, and help you relax makes for a great night ahead. They're especially good cuddle buddies during winter as their elevated body temperature makes for a nice, toasty bed warmer.
Dogs have a way of reducing your stress levels, and it's not just a case of 'aww's. Did you know that a dog can affect your cortisol levels? Cortisol is a primary stress hormone. Elevated levels mean high stress. Fortunately, spending time with your dog can help keep things under control.
Studies found that dogs have an impact on this specific hormone. One study measured the stress levels of college students and found that just 10 minutes of interaction with dogs (and cats) produced a significant reduction in cortisol.
Another study found links between the stress levels of children with autism and service dogs, while other research found that a mere 5-minute therapy dog interaction while on shift can reduce provider stress in emergency physicians and nurses.
Improves Sleep Quality
Sleeping with your dog has been known to help with sleep problems. A 2015 study by Mayo Clinic found that the presence of pets can alter the sleep environment of the household in ways that could alter sleep.
The participants of this study reported having pets in bed was associated with feelings of comfort and security. Another study from 2017 found that humans with a single dog in their bedroom maintained good sleep efficiency (though this only pertained to instances in which the dog was inside the room, not on the bed).
Other research suggests that compared to cats, dogs are perceived as less disruptive to sleep. So if you're having trouble sleeping, it might be worth inviting your dog into bed.
If you're prone to nightmares, co-sleeping with your dog may not be such a bad idea, either. According to Sleep Review, sleeping with dogs, in particular, trained service animals, may help diminish nightmares as well as other anxiety and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sleep-related disturbances. A service dog may also be used in this regard as they act as a natural alarm system that wakes their owners when signs of nightmares manifest.
Lowers Blood Pressure
We've mentioned before that dogs help release oxytocin, a hormone that directly affects your mental health. But that's not all they do. Oxytocin also plays a role in lowering blood pressure.
Harvard Medical School reported that studies have found that people with dogs have a lower blood pressure than those without dogs, and they experience less cardiovascular reactivity during times of stress.
Drawbacks to Letting Your Dog Sleep in the Bed
Of course, things don't always go off without a hitch. While sleeping with your dog surely has its upsides, the downsides are also pretty apparent. Here are some of the reasons why not all pet owners allow their dogs to sleep in the bed.
While a dog may provide a measure of comfort and security and may also improve sleep efficiency, putting your dog to sleep beside you is not a guaranteed sleep aid. Research suggests that it may be the opposite.
One study found that co-sleeping with a dog results in relatively mild reductions to overall sleep quality. This is largely due to the differences in human and dog sleep cycles. Dogs have a relatively shorter sleep cycle than humans and tend to sleep in short bursts throughout the day compared to the long hours of uninterrupted sleep that humans prefer.
The study found that dogs were active 20% of the night and their human owners are more likely to be disrupted when their dogs are active.
Dog fur is a common allergen, but it's not just the fur that causes sneezing, coughing, swelling, and itching. According to Healthline, dogs secrete proteins that end up in their dead skin, saliva, and urine that may cause reactions to people with allergies. These allergens can wind up anywhere, from your carpet to your clothes.
Another problem that could arise when you sleep with your dog is the possibility of separation anxiety. There is a possible link between co-sleeping and behavior problems according to the American Kennel Club although it is not established whether co-sleeping creates the problem or the problem leads to co-sleeping. Think of it as a "chicken or the egg" scenario.
Whichever the case may be, a dog sharing a bed with its owner may haveseparation anxiety. And dealing with increased pacing, howling, whining, excessive barking is going to cause you more stress than you need. It may even affect your sleep.
Health Issues and Injuries
Apart from the possibility of allergies, allowing our furry friends to sleep in the bed also poses the risk of other diseases. Scary ones. After all, it is possible to spread bacteria, parasites, and fungi from dogs to humans. You could get fleas, ticks, ringworm, and skin infections.
You could also get scratched which opens a whole host of other problems, even more so if your dog isn't vaccinated (which they should be). Your dog could also bite you, especially if you're a restless sleeper and moves around in your sleep. Accidentally kicking your pet may be a good way to get bitten.
Sleeping with your dog has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it can be beneficial to your mental health. But it can also be detrimental to your sleep. Still, the companionship is sometimes worth it.
Of course, your sleep is important too. After all, you can't be a good fur parent and playmate if you're really suffering from a lack of sleep. If you're having trouble sleeping that's unrelated to your co-sleeping situation, look to Sandland Sleep. We've formulated a series of sleep supplements with your comfort in mind.
Unlike other sleeping pills, our products have natural hemp-derived ingredients powered by melatonin and have zero side effects, meaning you won't wake up feeling groggy. Instead, you'll feel refreshed and ready to take on the day with your furry friends.
Some dogs do, some dogs don't. Often, your dog can get a bit too hot when sleeping on beds and would usually prefer to sleep on the floor where it's cool. Others have the habit of moving around the house to sleep in several areas like the kitchen or the living room. Some dogs prefer to be in elevated areas so they can survey their surroundings.
Dogs also have a different sleep cycle and may not jive too well with your sleeping patterns. They can be sensitive and can be disturbed easily especially if you're the type that moves around in sleep.
Not all people like dogs, obviously, and it follows that not all people would appreciate having pets in their sleeping areas. If you're in a relationship with someone who likes to keep their bedroom human territory, you may have some problems. Of course, this all boils down to what is good for you and your partner, as well as your pets.
There are benefits to sleeping with a dog, but "better" is subjective. It could be better for you if the pros outweigh the cons or if the cons don't bother you at all. Depending on your situation and your relationship with your pet, letting your dog sleep in your bed may improve your mental health. Though, it may not necessarily be better for your dog. Some dogs like sleeping with their owners, some dogs don't. Survey your dog's personality and sleeping habits before you decide.