The Co-Sleeping Debate
On the fence about whether co-sleeping with your pet is a good idea? You’re not alone. Similar to the idea of co-sleeping with a child, co-sleeping with your pet is a widely debated topic. According to an American Kennel Club survey, around 45% of dog owners let their pup share the bed with them, while 20% crate their dog at night and 17% provide a pet bed in their bedroom. On the other hand, cats fare slightly better, with 62% of cats being allowed to sleep with their owners and 13% allowed to sleep with children in the home.
The Pet-Human Bond
Any doting pet owner will attest to having a special relationship with their four-legged friend, and there is actually some science to back up this pet-human bond. When you cuddle with your pet, or even look into their eyes, your body releases oxytocin, a chemical related to feelings of love and bonding. As a pet owner, you probably know the feeling well: You love your furry friend so much that just looking at them makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. However, does that mean that sleeping next to them is actually good for you? Research indicates that although there may be a few inconveniences involved with sleeping with your pet, there are four main benefits that outweigh these minor drawbacks.
The 4 Benefits of Sleeping with Your Pet
1. Provides a Sense of Security
According to a Mayo Clinic study, sleeping with your pet can improve the quality of your sleep because it makes you feel more safe and secure. Particularly if you live alone, having your pet next to you while you’re sleeping can make you feel safer. In fact, many dog owners report security reasons as their initial reason for acquiring a dog.
2. Lowers Stress Levels
Some common struggles of those who have insomnia include stress, anxiety, and depression. As sleepless nights add up, emotional imbalances will worsen. Having your pet cuddled up next to you as you sleep provides a sense of calmness that can counteract the racing heartbeat and ruminating thoughts associated with these conditions. Again, this is due to increased levels of oxytocin in your body that provide you with reassurance.
3. Strengthens Emotional Bond
Sleeping with your furry friend not only benefits you. It makes them feel happy and secure as well, especially if you’re out of the house during the day. Your pet considers you and others who live in the home as their pack, so they depend on you for their safety and well-being. This tribal affiliation makes them want you all to be together as much as possible, so sleeping together builds trust and loyalty.
4. Warmth and Comfort
In addition to your pet keeping you warm at night, their purring or rhythmic breathing can lull you to sleep and help you fall back to sleep if you are awakened during the night. The same thing occurs when you sleep next to another human heartbeat. Furthermore, you’ve got a nice, furry security blanket to snuggle up with.
Sleeping with your pet provides benefits that go beyond just knowing they are there to help keep you warm. Their presence affects you biologically on levels that improve your overall health and well-being, including emotional balance and stress levels. These science-based reasons make it clear that having to wash your sheets a little more often or getting nudged during the night are well worth the extra effort.