There are two types of pawrents. One type of pawrent allows furry loved ones to sleep on the bed. The other type has pets sleep elsewhere. The divide is surprisingly even. Just over half of America’s pet people prefer to spend their nights with their companion animals cuddled up close sharing the bed. Ultimately, the decision is a personal one.
Pets and humans both need to sleep soundly at night for long term health. As long as sharing a bed does not obstruct healthy sleep, then sleeping next to pets is not a problem. In fact, there are a lot of benefits of having companion animals sleep next to you.
For example, pets help people relax. Even just the rhythmic breathing of a companion animal is excellent for lulling humans rapidly to sleep. For some, there is also a sense of security that comes with having a highly alert companion animal so close. That peace of mind helps some individuals fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
Additionally, there are long-term benefits to co-sleeping with pets. When we humans share our beds with beloved animals, we increase the levels of oxytocin in our bloodstream. Oxytocin is a natural hormone that is associated with happiness and affection. So, co-sleeping with pets actually makes people happier and more affectionate.
Despite the wonderful benefits, allowing pets onto the bed is not ideal for everyone. Anyone allergic to their pets should not sleep near them. Sleep deprivation will take a toll on physical and mental well-being and dozing off next to an allergen simply makes sleeping too difficult.
While studies have widely disproven the myth that pets are guaranteed to keep people from sleeping, some pets just don’t sleep as passively as others. Hyper-alert companion animals will make noise, move, and generally do things that can disturb a good night’s slumber. Pets that have trouble sleeping calmly at night should be kept out of their humans’ beds; it is best for everyone. Remember to also consider what is best for your pets. For example, use caution when sleeping with smaller more delicate companion animals.
Another common myth is that allowing pets on the bed will increase dominant or aggressive behavior. This is not true. Co-sleeping may highlight, reveal, or possibly encourage bad behavior, but it does not cause this bad behavior. For example, a dominant and over-aggressive dog might bark or growl to protect their spot on the bed. Sharing the bed does not cause such behavior, but simply puts it on display. In that same scenario, allowing that bad behavior to continue will certainly make it worse. Aggressive or poorly behaved pets should be properly trained and given time to adjust before being allowed to sleep in the bed.
Co-sleeping with a companion animal can be a great experience, but it is not necessarily right for every pet or pawrent. Under the wrong circumstances, sharing a bed with your companion animals can disrupt sleep or pose other health issues. So, be honest about your unique situation, and make the right decision for both you and your furry loved ones.
Check out American Kennel Club's article for more details and information about co-sleeping with pets.