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Why You Should Think Twice About Sleeping With Your Pet
Which matters more: cuddles or sleep quality?
Mercey LivingstonCNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
We all love our pets, but should you let them sleep in your bed? Getting your furry friend to sleep in their own bed or crate can be tough. Plus, they're warm and cuddly, and it feels impossible to say no to their adorable eyes when they try to jump into bed with you. With that being said, it might be for the best (for the both of you) to sleep apart.
Just like newborns, pets can wake you up at night and disturb you. Whether you already have pets or are considering getting one in the future, thinking twice about your sleeping arrangements can affect how rested you feel over time. Ultimately, it's a personal choice, but if you're looking for some insight on the pros and cons of sleeping with your pets, keep reading. It might make you reconsider your own nightly habits.
Some pets are more active at night, which can wake you up and mess up your sleep. If you've ever raised a puppy, you are very familiar with the reality of being woken up several times a night for potty breaks (or simply because your pup is bored). Even though dogs tend to sleep better when they're older, there's still a case to be made about pets disrupting your sleep.
Even though it's normal to have your sleep disrupted from time to time, ongoing disturbances can lead to bigger issues like not being able to fall back asleep or stay asleep, or restlessness throughout the night when you need consistent deep, uninterrupted sleep. If you continually find your pets waking you up throughout the night when they sleep with you, you should reevaluate sleeping with pets if they're keeping you from getting the rest you need.
Dander and allergies
If you suffer from allergies, you might want to think twice about letting pets like dogs or cats sleep in the bed. Dr. Kunjana Mavunda, a pediatric pulmonologist, warns that pet dander can irritate allergies, especially when you sleep in the same bed. "Even if a person has no allergies to pet dander, if they choose to sleep with a pet, it will be prudent to get special protective mattress and pillow covers with zippers that completely cover the mattress and pillow," says Mavunda. That can help keep your mattress and pillow clean and prevent dander from lingering.
Since dander can easily spread across your pillows, blankets and sheets, Mavunda also suggests limiting the amount of other items on your bed and washing everything once a week in hot water if you do let pets sleep there.
When it comes to letting my own pet on my bed, if she's just been outside for a walk through mud, dirt or even wet sidewalks I won't let her get near my white comforter. But even outside of bad weather, my pup can get pretty dirty just running around the house and going out for her normal potty breaks in the grass (which is when pet wipes come in handy for dirty paws).
Depending on how dirty your pup gets, you might have a strict no-bed or co-sleeping rule. Again, it comes down to personal preference and how you feel about your pet potentially tracking in dirt from the outdoors into your bedroom.
Pet experts who recommend crate training usually encourage it for dogs to help with housebreaking the dog, among other benefits. Safety is another concern -- I remember when I first got my puppy and I felt guilty putting her in the crate, but then I knew she'd be safer there than in my bed where she might fall off or worse, like if I accidentally hurt her when I was sleeping (she was a tiny 2-pound pup).
Now that she's older, I still feel more safe with her in the crate, knowing that she won't potentially fall and hurt herself or wake me up to play in the middle of the night.
If your pet is not disrupting your sleep and waking you up throughout the night, you could argue there are several benefits for letting them sleep with you. Since so many people love their pets and find comfort from their presence, you may even sleep better with them near you.
Some research backs this up, showing that owners who sleep with their pets reported that it does not disrupt their sleep, and some single people reported that pets helped them sleep better.
If you're still on the fence about whether or not to let your pets sleep with you, remember that it's a personal choice. Weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks for you, and go with the choice that helps you sleep best, since sleep is so important for overall health -- for you and your pet.
To help get your dog to sleep on their own, check out the best dog beds. And if your furry friend sleeps through the night away from your bed, reward them with the best dog toys and best cat toys our own pets recommend.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.