It’s clear that most pets in America have a pretty good life with pet owners spending nearly $69 billion on them each year. Plus, pet owners often spoil them since 71% of all pets, which includes 78 million dogs and over 85 million cats, sleep with their pet companions each night. However, the verdict is still out on whether you should allow your pets to sleep with you.
Conflicting Sleep Studies
The information from studies about having pets, especially dogs, sleep with you is confusing. On the one hand, there are studies that support allowing your pet to sleep with you, but there are other studies saying it is a bad thing to do.
Mayo Clinic 2002 Study
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic did their first study on how sleeping with a pet could cause sleep disruptions in 2002. The medical director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center asked 300 patients who came in for consultations about sleeping with their pets. The survey discovered that many people with sleep issues slept with their pets.
Out of the 300 who did the survey, 60% of them had pets who slept in the bedroom. If a dog was sleeping in the bedroom, then there was a 57% chance it would be allowed to sleep on the bed. 53% of participants with pets experienced some sleep disruptions every night.
The main reasons for sleep disruptions were:
- Pets snoring, which occurred in 21% of dogs and seven percent of cats.
- Needing to let the dog out to use the bathroom.
- Movement on the bed.
This study did not make any recommendations but said each person had to determine for themselves the advantages and disadvantages of allowing a pet to sleep with them.
Mayo Clinic 2014 Study
In 2014, the Mayo Clinic decided to repeat the 2002 survey about how pets could cause sleep disruptions for their human companions and compare the results. The survey involved 150 patients from their Center for Sleep Medicine who were asked questions about their sleeping habits, their pet’s behavior, and where their pets slept.
The survey found 56% of the participants had a dog or cat in the bedroom or on the bed when they went to bed. Although 20% of them said their sleep was disturbed by their pets, 41% of the participants said that having a pet share their bed helped them sleep better.
Some participants of this study stated they preferred having their pet in the bedroom or on the bed because it gave them a sense of security, companionship, and it helped them relax. People who were single said having their pet with them at night helped them fall asleep.
Mayo Clinic 2017 Study
The Mayo Clinic did another study regarding having pets sleep in the bedroom or on the bed with their owners in 2017. The new study involved 40 participants without sleep disorders who owned dogs. They were observed for over five months and wore activity trackers for seven nights.
Researchers found that the participants whose dogs slept in the room were able to sleep better. However, those who had their dogs on the bed with them lost quality sleep. Although the study found that pets do not disrupt their owners sleep as previously suggested, if the dog is in the bedroom with you, then they should have their own bed so you can sleep more soundly.
The studies did not examine sleep disturbances caused by having their pets sleep outside. However, most people probably have stories about being awoken by a barking dog and not being able to get back to sleep. If your dog sleeps outside, it may not only be your sleep being disrupted. Your neighbors’ sleep may also be disrupted, which may not bode well for having friendly relations with them.
Is Sleeping with Pets Healthy?
There is some concern among physicians and veterinarians that sleeping with pets is unhealthy and that they could transmit diseases to their owners. A 2011 report by the CDC stated while sleeping with healthy pets usually didn’t present a problem, zoonotic agents could be passed from pets to humans by letting a pet lick you, sleep with you, or if you kissed it near the mouth.
The report mentioned some of the diseases that could be passed from pets to humans, which included the bubonic plague. In 1974, there were cases in New Mexico in which cats with fleas or who were sick had slept with their owners and passed the plague onto them. Cases involving the transmission of the plague were also found in 1983 and 2008.
The report also mentioned other diseases that could spread to humans from close contact with their pets. They include:
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- Cat Scratch Disease
- Parasites like hookworm or roundworm
There were also concerns about letting dogs sleep with children because there were instances of dog bites that didn’t come from playing with the child. Some vets suggest not allowing a puppy to sleep with you or a child until they have been trained how to behave, so you are not awoken by nips, bites, or them wanting to play in the middle of the night.
Peacefully Sleeping with Pets
If you prefer to sleep with your dog or cat in the bedroom or on your bed, there are some things you can do to keep them from disrupting your sleep.
Until you’ve taught your puppy to go outside to urinate or defecate, you shouldn’t let him or her sleep with you. Puppies don’t have good bladder control and, if they need to use the bathroom at night, they may not be able to jump out of bed to do their business. So, until they’ve been trained to go outside and they’re big enough to jump out of and onto the bed, they should sleep in a crate or their own bed.
Wait Until Grown
It can be difficult to tell how big a puppy or young dog is going to get if it is a mixed breed. Until you know, you should teach them to sleep in a bed of their own or crate train them. It is more difficult to teach an adult dog not to sleep in the bed once they are accustomed to doing so.
No Toys in Bedroom
Many dogs get excited when it’s bedtime and want to play because they have your undivided attention. However, being awoken by squeaky toys during the night can be irritating, and you could find it hard to go back to sleep. The best way to deal with this issue is to ban all dog toys from the bedroom, regardless of whether the dog has his own bed or sleeps with you.
Although some doctors and veterinarians do not recommend sleeping with pets, recent studies show it can be beneficial for people to have their pet in the bedroom or on the bed with them. It provides them with a sense of security that allows them to go to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night. However, if your pet sleeps with you and you feel sleep deprived, get your dog or cat their own bed, so they stop sharing yours.