If you have a pet companion, you’ve probably weighed the pros and cons of sleeping with your furry friend. As with the practice of sleeping with your child, whether or not co-sleeping with your pet is a good idea is debated among pet owners. According to one recent survey that was conducted by the AKC (American Kennel Club), at least 45% of dog owners allow their dog to sleep with them, 20% crate their dog and 17% offer a dog bed. Cats seem to have it a little better when it comes to getting a spot on the bed, with 62% sleeping with their adult humans and 13% sleeping with children in the household.
What Is It About the Pet-Human Bond?
Clearly, most pet owners have very special relationships with their four-legged companions – and there’s some science behind this type of bond. It’s related to a “feel good” hormone called oxytocin that’s released when you touch your pet, and even when you look into their eyes.
As pet owners, we all know the feeling this science validates – sometimes when we cuddle with our pet, we love them so much we can’t stand it. But does that mean that sleeping with your pet could actually be good for you?
The Benefits of Sleeping with Your Pet
Here are four evidenced-based reasons that the ups certainly outweigh the downs when it comes to human-pet co-sleeping.
1. Sense of Security
Having your pet beside you when you sleep at night can make you feel safer, both emotionally and physically. In fact, many dog owners report that their initial reason for getting a dog was for security reasons. A dog can give you a sense of protection at all times, but it’s especially important when you are vulnerable while sleeping, especially if you live alone.
2. Reduced Stress
Often, people who struggle with insomnia experience anxiety, depression and stress. This emotional imbalance is only made worse as sleepless nights start to add up into weeks and months. Having a pet sleeping with you promotes a sense of calm that helps to counteract racing thoughts and heartbeats. As mentioned above, touching them increases levels of oxytocin in your brain and offers reassurance.
3. Closer Emotional Bond
You’re not the only one who’ll benefit from sleeping with your pet. It also makes them happy, especially if you work outside of the home most of the day. You and other family members are your pet’s pack and they want to be as close to you as possible when you’re home. So, sleeping together is a win-win situation that celebrates your kinship with your pet.
4. Warmth and Comfort
Not only will your pet keep you warm at night, their rhythmic breathing or purring will help you fall asleep and lull you back to sleep if you wake in the middle of the night. This is no different than the comfort you get from sleeping with a spouse or partner. Plus, their furry coats are like little fuzzy security blankets.
The benefits of sleeping with your pet add elements to your life that improve your overall health and well-being, such as physical and mental security and lower stress levels. These science-based reasons clearly overshadow the tasks of keeping your pet squeaky clean and being awakened during the night now and then.
For further reading, check out this Sleep Advisor’s article about the pros and cons of sleeping with your pets in bed.