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Is Sleeping with Pets Good for You?

Pet ownership comes with a host of wonderful benefits. As a pet owner, you might be wondering if sleeping with your fur baby is good for your health. Recent studies have shown that there are some benefits to sharing a bed with your pet, such as getting better sleep and lower stress levels. However, there are also some risks associated with this habit, so it's important to make sure you weigh the pros and cons before deciding. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and risks of sleeping with pets!

How Many Pet Owners Sleep with Their Pets?

In the United States, it's estimated that around half of all pet owners sleep with their pets. This is somewhat higher than the global average, which is estimated to be around 30%. However, there are some countries where the percentage is much higher. In Brazil, for example, it's estimated that 80% of pet owners share their beds with their furry friends.

So why do people in the US and other countries sleep with their pets? There are a few reasons. For many people, sleeping with a pet provides a sense of comfort and security. It can also help to regulate body temperature and reduce stress levels. Additionally, some people believe that sleeping with a pet can improve the quality of their sleep.

But is sleeping with a pet healthy? According to most experts, the answer is yes. Sharing your bed with Fido or Fluffy can help to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of relaxation. Additionally, pets can help to ease loneliness and provide companionship during the night. Read on as we dive deeper into these benefits.

 

A gray cat sprawls on a bed that is dressed in white sheets. The cat has a sleepy expression.

 

Benefits of Sleeping with Pets

 

IMPROVED MENTAL HEALTH

Sleeping with pets can offer a sense of comfort and security that is hard to come by. For many people, it is like having a built-in alarm system. Animals are known to be attuned to their surroundings, and they will often let their humans know if something is amiss. This can be particularly helpful for people who live alone. According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, almost half of all Americans report sleeping with companion animals. Of those surveyed, 56% said it made them feel more secure at night.

According to another recent study, sleeping with pets can have several benefits for mental health. People who slept with their dogs or cats had lower levels of depression, loneliness, and stress than those who did not. The research suggests that the companionship of a pet can help to reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety. In addition, physical contact with a pet can help to increase levels of oxytocin, which is known as the “cuddle hormone” and is associated with feelings of happiness and well-being.

 

The face of a pug dog is shown in close-up.  The dog is lying in bed next to its owner’s legs, and the owner is shown in soft focus in the background.

 

IMPROVED HEALTH & IMMUNITY

Does sleeping with pets improve immune system function? Does it reduce allergies later in life? Some research suggests that it may. One study found that children who were exposed to pet dander early in life were less likely to develop allergies later. Another study found that people who slept with dogs had higher levels of immunity-boosting antibodies than those who didn't.

Co-sleeping with Fluffy or Fido may also help to lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels, which in turn has a positive impact on cardiovascular health.  One study found that people who slept with dogs had significantly lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn't.  So, if you're looking for another reason to snuggle up with your furry friend at night, know that it just might be good for your heart.

However, it's important to note that not all experts agree on the health benefits of human-animal co-sleeping. Some argue that animals sleeping in the same bed as their humans can increase the risk of developing allergies or contracting infections. Ultimately, it's up to each individual to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

 

A French bulldog is wrapped in a light blue plush blanket.

 

IMPROVED SLEEP QUALITY

One of the benefits of sleeping with your pet is that it improves sleep quality. When we sleep, our brainwaves shift from beta waves (associated with wakefulness and mental activity) to alpha waves (associated with relaxation and drowsiness). As we progress into deep sleep, our brainwaves transition to theta waves (associated with deep rest and refreshed waking state).

Studies have shown that people who sleep with their pets tend to have more theta brainwaves than those who don't. This suggests that sleeping with a pet promotes deeper, more restful sleep. And as we have previously learned, the presence of a companion animal can help to ease anxiety and promote feelings of safety and security, both of which are important for a good night's sleep.

Sleeping with your pet can also ease insomnia and other sleep disorders. Insomnia makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, and in some cases it can be caused by anxiety or stress. The anxiety-relieving benefits that pets bring make it easier to fall asleep and experience uninterrupted sleep through the night. As a result, you'll wake up feeling rested and refreshed. So, if you're struggling with insomnia, consider snuggling up with your dog or cat at bedtime. It just might be the key to a good night's sleep.

 

A brown and white tabby cat with long fur sleeps on a bed.

 

Risks of Sleeping with Pets

While there's no doubt that many people enjoy sleeping with their pets, there are also some risks associated with this practice. One of the most common risks is the potential for flea and tick infestations. These pests can not only cause discomfort for your pet, but they can also spread disease to humans.

In addition, dogs and cats can also carry other types of parasites, such as mites and roundworms, which can be transferred to humans through contact with their fur. Another risk of sleeping with pets is the potential for triggering allergies, causing symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes. If you're considering sleeping with a pet, it's important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully.

ARE THERE SAFETY CONCERNS FOR CHILDREN?

Some people believe that it is perfectly safe for children to sleep with their pets, while others have raised concerns about the potential risks. In addition to disease and allergy risks, one of the main safety concerns is the risk of suffocation or strangulation. Dogs or cats can inadvertently block a child's airway, and small animals such as rodents or reptiles can easily crawl into bed and become entangled in blankets or sheets.

Another risk is that pets may unintentionally injure a child while they are sleeping. For example, a dog might move around in the night and kick a child with its paw. Finally, pets can sometimes disturb a child's sleep by making noise or trying to cuddle. While these risks should not be taken lightly, they should also be weighed against the many benefits of children sleeping with companion animals.

 

A woman cuddles her dog in a bed.  She is wrapped in a white duvet, has her eyes closed, and is smiling.

 

Conclusion

When it comes to the benefits and risks of sleeping with pets, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some people find that sleeping with their pet provides them with a sense of comfort and security, while others worry about the potential for flea and tick infestations, allergies, or diseases. Ultimately, it is up to everyone’s personal preference. If you are considering sharing your bed with your dog or cat, it's important to weigh these pros and cons and decide what is best for you and your pet.