How sleeping with your pet affects your sleep and well-being
It’s a divisive issue, even among pet owners.
Some couldn’t imagine a night sleeping without their beloved pooch or puss curled up close to them. Other animal lovers are much happier instilling boundaries with their pets and would never let them on the bed, never mind in it.
But is it really a bad thing? And is it something you should consider?
Let’s take a look.
Getting a good night’s rest
If your pet is a scratcher, snorer, or space-hogger it’s likely this will negatively impact your sleep cycles.
You can read in detail about the different stages of sleep, but in short there are four stages which make up one 90-minute cycle (usually you’ll get four or five of these cycles a night).
If you’re continually woken (especially in the latter two stages of sleep) and you don’t fully complete the cycles this will of course negatively impact on your quality of sleep.
The impact of poor quality sleep
Poor sleep will affect the following:
- Brain function – a lack of sleep will impair how well your brain prepares for the following day – impacting how well you learn and retain information.
- Productivity – sleep deprivation negatively impacts your reaction time, making driving potentially dangerous.
- Emotional well-being – this is a biggie – poor sleep can enhance feelings of anger, depression, mood swings and a lack of motivation.
- Stress – sleep and stress go hand in hand – the less you sleep the more stressed you can feel.
- Physical health – continual poor sleep can increase heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
This suggests that negating the quality of your sleep for cuddles in the morning with your pet isn’t the best idea for your well-being. However, not all pets are bad sleepers – if you manage a full-night of unbroken sleep there should really be no issue.
How your pet can improve your sleep
And there just might be a way you can still sleep well and get some pre-work cuddle time under the duvet too.
A 2017 study from US-based Mayo Clinic found that regardless of the size of dog, having one in the bedroom (as opposed to in the bed) at night actually improved their owners’ quality of sleep. Dog owners found comfort and a sense of security from having their companion in the room with them at night.
On the other hand, it was also proven that when the dogs slept in the bed with their owners it did negatively impact sleep.
So, that’s settled. In the bedroom yes, in the bed, no.
Other health concerns
But isn’t it just dirty?
Again, it’s not that clear cut. There are pros and cons of letting your animal share your bed with you when it comes to your immediate physical health.
Cats by their very nature are clean animals, while dogs often aren’t, meaning they carry plenty of bacteria in their fur. But it turns out the bacteria that your canine four-legged friend brings into your bed might not necessarily be that harmful.
Not all bacteria are bad, specifically exposure to many types of bacteria can actually help boost your immune system. A good immune system assists with preventing disease and potentially improving your mood.
However, if you suffer from allergies and asthma, breathing in harmful particles from either your pet’s fur or dirt and microbes carried on it can have a real impact on your immune system, taking things the other way.
Whether we see it is dirty or not is a question for individual owners. Whether this can impact your physical health seems to depend on any existing conditions and tolerance to allergies as opposed to how grubby your pet can get.
So, there are pros and cons. The decision it seems is up to you.