The Effects of Sleeping With Your Dog
6 min read
Last Modified 16 June 2021 First Added 27 October 2017
When considering if your dog should sleep in the same room as you, it can be a controversial decision. For some pet owners, there’s nothing better than a cuddle with their furry friend. For others, the bedroom is a strictly no-pet zone. But studies show that there are benefits of sleeping with your dog. Find out why you should let your dog sleep with you below.
A study by the Mayo Clinic measured the effect of letting your dog sleep with you and sleep quality. There were 40 participants – all healthy adults with dogs over the age of 6 months. The results showed that having your dog in your bedroom benefitted the sleep of the participants who maintained 83% sleep efficiency. However, participants who shared their bed with their dog had a slightly lower sleep efficiency of 80%.
When it comes to sleep efficiency, 80% is considered great, so even the participants that had their dog on the bed had a pretty good sleep. It seems that sleeping with your dog can improve sleep efficiency, whether you like to share your bed with your furry friend or just like to have them in the same room at night. If you want to catch those extra Zzzs though, get your pet their own dog bed to snooze on!
Sharing a bed with your dog can also establish a sleep pattern for you both. Your dog will likely sleep better throughout the night just by sensing that you’re asleep. Dogs tend to follow our lead, our emotions, and our schedules. So, by sharing a bed with your dog they’ll sense the shutting down mode and help your furry friend relax too. By establishing a routine, your dog will feel more safe and secure but will also go to sleep and wake at the same times.
Sharing a bed with your dog has a lot of benefits and can be good for you. But, there are arguments on the hygiene of having your dog in your bed and if it’s unhealthy for you.
Pet MD argues that ‘there is scant evidence that healthy, well cared for pets are detrimental to human health under these circumstances’ and that ‘human family members are much more likely to transmit diseases to each other during bed-sharing than our pets are’. However, they do acknowledge that letting your dog give you kisses and lick you can transfer nasty infections, so try to leave the dog kisses out of your bedtime routine.
All of this only makes sense if you have a clean and healthy pet. A study by pet insurer Animal Friends revealed that 43.6% of Brits share a bed with their dog or cat, yet 30.5% never wash their pet. Additionally, 30.4% of Brits wash their dog or cat bed less than the recommended amount which is once a week, or as often as you clean your own. Keeping your dog and their bedding clean should cut the risk of transferring any illnesses and will keep your bedroom smelling fresh.
On the other side, there are many physical and mental health benefits of sleeping with your dog. Dogs may help to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and improve feelings of loneliness. Allowing your dog into your bedroom provides a calm, soothing presence that provides you with many benefits. Sleeping with your dog also can make you feel safer, another reason why sharing a bed with your dog can be good for you. Dogs have excellent hearing, are protective of you, and are quick to detect if something’s wrong. All in all, if you keep your dog clean, sleeping with your pet has a lot of advantages.
Read more: Why Do Some Dogs Snore So Badly?
Sharing a bed with your dog will strengthen your bond, and can be comforting for you both. Your dog and you receive comfort from each other, as your dog loves you and looks at you for guidance. Just being together in the same room, even while asleep, can make your dog more loyal. This low-key relaxing time with you and your dog builds trust and confidence. Sharing a bed with your dog can also increase the feelings of comfort and companionship for you both. Having your dog in your bedroom is an ideal way for you and your dog to bond as it’s a time of connection without demanding anything from each other.
Your dog will feel more comfortable in the same room as you, as allowing your dog to sleep with you helps your dog avoid feeling scared, alone, or insecure. They’ll be in your company, but also this gives them the chance to settle down and not roam or get into any trouble at night.
However, sleeping with your dog frequently can cause your dog to develop separation anxiety, but sharing a bed isn’t the sole cause. If your dog becomes uneasy and cries when they aren’t in your bedroom or sleeping with you, it can make it harder for your dog to cope when you’re out of the house. It’s best to encourage them to sleep in their own bed. To help them, try putting their bed in your bedroom so that they feel safe still but have their own independence.
Although it might be tempting to let your dog sleep on the bed in times of need to comfort them such as occasions like Bonfire Night, it can potentially confuse your furry friend. During this time, dogs like to feel comforted and sheltered, so try setting up a ‘safe space’ or den underneath or next to your bed. According to Your Dog, ‘a den should be prepared two weeks in advance so your pet can become accustomed to using it.’ Try placing down items of your clothing so they can feel reassured by your scent. Finally, close the curtains to block out the flashing lights and leave the TV or radio on low to block out some of the banging sounds.
So, whether you share a bed with your dog or just have your fluffy companion in the same room, the most important thing is to get a good night’s sleep. Try these tips and keep doing whatever works for you!