Animals/ Pets

Sleeping with pets

Many people with animal companions sleep in the same bed as their pets at night. While doctors previously warned against sleeping with pets, new research indicates that it may benefit your physical and mental health. We examine the pros and cons of sleeping with a dog and tips for how to sleep best with your pet.

Can I let my pet sleep with me

Sleeping together is not recommended for small animals such as chinchillas and gerbils, which are prone to gnawing on things and may run away. They also cannot be potty-trained. Sharing a bed with larger animals is more difficult to answer. The individual decides to sleep with a pet. Pets can provide comfort and security but may also affect sleep quality or cause allergies in some people. The benefits and risks of owning a pet will depend on your lifestyle, your pet’s, and the type of animal you have.

Over 86% of puppies Trusted SourceNational Library of Medicine Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health through access to biomedical information and genomics. View Source prefers to sleep with their pet. Over 86% of puppies trusted SourceNational Library of Medicine Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by giving access to biomedical information and genomics. View Source chooses to sleep with a human.

Sleeping with pets has many benefits

Sleeping with a pet has been shown to have some positive effects, both in research and from subjective experience.

Comfort and security

For safety and protection, some people prefer a pet. A dog can increase the security of a home by deterring criminal activity. Dogs can provide a subjective feeling of security. In a study of American women, those who slept next to dogs felt more secure and comforted.

When people experience nightmares, service dogs can provide comfort and security. PTSD service animals are trained to recognize physical signs of a person having a dream and can interrupt the nightmare by waking up. In a study on veterans who had PTSD service animals, 57% said that the dog helped them with their nightmares.

Improved Mental Health

Numerous studies concluded that pets have a positive impact on the mental well-being of humans. Even if dogs aren’t official service dogs, they can still be a valuable part of the support system for many people with long-term mental illnesses.

Positively interacting with a dog increases oxytocin levels in adults. Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source and reduces cortisol levels in children. Positively interacting with a dog with adults increases oxytocin and cortisol in children. The reduction of cortisol and increase in oxytocin levels is associated with stress relief and relaxation.

Most studies on the benefits of owning a pet have been conducted with participants awake. It is, therefore, unclear whether the benefits are still present when people sleep next to their pets. The relaxing effect of interaction with a pet seems to be due, at least in part, to physical contact. Sleeping with dogs that involve snuggling and direct physical contact could reduce stress and greater relaxation.

Many people claim that sleeping with their pet benefits their sleep, and an older study found that people with pets were less likely to take sleep medication. Trusted SourceSpringerLinkSpringerLink provides researchers with access to millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols, reference works, and proceedings. View Source than people who do not have pets.

Immunity Enhancement

The presence of dogs in the home can significantly impact the bacteria in the house and therefore, the immunity of the people living there. Researchers believe that exposure to diverse microorganisms benefits human health as it strengthens immunity. Lack of diversity in exposure could cause allergies and autoimmune diseases. Petting a canine increases the immune response. The close contact that comes with sharing a bed may be more beneficial to the immune system than just having a pet in the home. This claim needs to be substantiated by more research.

Children and infants have immune systems that are still developing, so the immunity benefits of pets may be even greater. It has been shown that living with a kitten in the first year of a child’s life can reduce their risk of developing an allergy to cats. Living with a dog in the first year of a man’s life reduces his chances of developing a dog allergy. Exposure to at least two dogs or cats during the first year may reduce the likelihood that a person will develop other allergies, such as dust mites and bluegrass.

Improved Physical Health

It has been shown that pets improve health in many different ways. They can lower blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride. Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of dying, probably because of the positive effects on the cardiovascular system. In early research, it was found that petting dogs reduced blood pressure and heart rates. Cuddling with your pet at night could help if touching them is the direct way to get these health benefits.

Sleeping with pets: Risks

Sleeping with animals can be dangerous for some people, even though many enjoy it.

Allergies

View Source In the United States, millions of people with pet allergies still live with pets. People with pet allergies should consider keeping their pets out of bedrooms, even during the daylight hours, to prevent exposure to pet dander and hair while sleeping.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, which provides access to biomedical information and genomic data, advances science and people’s health by providing access to this information. The first cat a person has in adulthood is also associated with eczema. This skin condition is related to allergies. You may wish to ask your doctor for an allergy test if you suspect that your pet is causing allergy symptoms.