According to a number of studies, owners sleeping with their pets is a very common occurrence in the United States. The American Pet Products Association reported that nearly half of dog owners let their pet sleep in their bed while nearly two-thirds of cats sleep with their owners.
Health Benefits of Pets
The health benefits of having a pet are well documented. For example, owning a pet can help lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety. Pet ownership has been shown to lessen depression in those suffering from psychiatric illnesses. They also boost immunity for those prone to allergies and can help socially-challenged individuals, such as those with autism.
Risks of Sleeping with Pets
As long as a pet isn’t disrupting your sleep with constant movement or aggravating an allergy, there’s not harm in allowing a pet in your bed.
However, it’s important to follow a few precautions:
- Ask your veterinarian about the risks involved in sharing a bed with your pet, as there are certain illnesses, known as zoonotic diseases, which can be passed from pet to human. People who are particularly prone to these diseases are the immunocompromised, the elderly and small children. Make sure to keep your pet on the recommended schedule for vaccinations and parasite control.
- To ensure you have enough space to sleep, designate a particular spot on the bed that is meant for your pet with a blanket, pet bed or towel. Teach your pet on the ground that this is its sleep target and then move it to the bed. You can teach your pet to sleep on the pet bed with treats or rewarding it for taking small steps, such as putting a paw in the specified area.
- A study released by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center found that 53 percent of pet owners who allowed their pet(s) to sleep in their bed were disturbed by the animal in some way every night. If you have insomnia and sleep with a pet, you might try to put the pet in another room if it interferes with your normal sleeping schedule.
If you are interested in learning more about how pets can affect sleep quality, call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563.