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Sleep with your pet? Here’s how it may impact you and your pet

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People frequently ask if they should share their bed with a pet in an effort for better sleep. Let’s consider the other side of the question before we get to that.

Is it beneficial for your pet to sleep with you? said Dr. Dana Varble, president and chief veterinarian officer of the North American Veterinary Community.

“It’s fantastic because we know that pets get petted, get affection, they get to come into the room if they’re scared during the night.

The other side of it is there are people with allergies.” If you suffer from allergies, Dr. Varble said, your sleep quality will likely not be very good if you share a bed with your pet. Studies have shown that people with allergies who sleep with pets often have trouble sleeping.

Is it only dogs and cats that profit from having a bed partner? Yes, according to Varble, with the exception of “a few very rare cases.”

“I have one owner who has a meticulously groomed pot-bellied pig that sleeps at the foot of their bed,” she continued. “It’s an indoor pig named Norbert—pot-bellied pigs are almost like dogs because they’re very sociable.” (Norbert even has his own Instagram account.)

advantages and disadvantages for humans

With that major issue behind us, let’s get back to you: Is it better for you to sleep with a pet? Because you may not receive adequate rest, experts have advised against it.

Dogs and cats might move about, bark, and disrupt sleep. Dogs and cats do not enjoy continuous sleep and will eventually wake up their owners when they need to go outside or want attention

Kelly Reynolds, PhD. Associate professor of psychology at the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.

“There are studies showing that people with dogs may have shorter periods of deep sleep and/or more awakenings through the night which might affect performance the next day.”

What’s more, if you sleep with your pet in your bed, you may find yourself feeling lethargic and incapable of getting anything done during the day.

That may be the case for many of us, but recent research suggests that pets in the bedroom might be beneficial for certain people.

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“People who suffer from depression or anxiety might find comfort in having their pet in bed since the pet is a big cushion, a blanket, and they may feel cozy and cuddly,” said sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta of USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

According to data compiled by the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona, over half of the pet visitors to the clinic allowed their pet to sleep in the bedroom and the majority considered their pet “unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep.”

However, 20% of respondents stated that their pets made their sleep worse. Another study conducted in 2017 put sleep trackers on dogs and their owners to examine the quality of repose for both groups.

People who kept dogs in their bedrooms had a good night’s sleep (and so did the dogs), according to the research team.

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When individuals relocated their pets to the living room or another room, they experienced disruptions in sleep.

Sleeping with a pet can also be beneficial to youngsters. A 2021 study asked teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 to wear sleep trackers for two weeks and then participate in a cutting-edge sleep test.

According to the researchers, about a third of the children slept with pets, which did not appear to have an impact on their rest quality.

“All of this indicates that having pets in the bed or bedroom is not necessarily harmful,” said Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.

“Having your pet close by may provide psychological comfort, which can aid both the initiation and maintenance of sleep.”

However, if patients state that their pet’s movement or other activities disrupt their sleep, we advise them to look for alternative nighttime arrangements for the pet and see if that improves their sleep.

How to make it happen

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“It’s all about how deeply you both sleep, says clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael Breus, the author of “Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.”

“Dogs are usually good for a full night, but cats can be very nocturnal,” he continued. “Also, how big is the pet, how big is the bed, and where does your partner fit into all of this?”

Pets, like people, can snore and disrupt sleep, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to bring them to bed.

Small dogs and cats frequently seek comfort beneath the covers with their owners, but doing so may raise body temperature and disturb sleep.

(The ideal sleeping temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.) If you’re considering bringing your pet to bed, make sure you choose a large dog or cat that won’t bump into your partner while they sleep.

As for the snoring issue, fortunately, there are several solutions available.

Some of us should avoid eating for a while.

Despite the new evidence, many of us are still hesitant to bring our dogs, cats, or indoor pigs into our beds.

It is particularly dangerous in people with insomnia or those who suffer from other sleep disorders — night owls or even persons with sleep apnea, who wake up due to breathing stop-start and are unable to return to sleep easily.

Dr. Dasgupta

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, between 15 and 30 percent of the US population suffers from insomnia, with at least 25 million people afflicted by obstructive sleep apnea.

Anytime your sleep cycles are disrupted, you disrupt the brain’s ability to restore itself on a cellular level, consolidate memories, save new knowledge, and prepare the body for peak performance.

The ideal rest occurs when you can sleep continuously for four to six cycles throughout the four stages of sleep four to six times each night.

Because each cycle takes approximately 90 minutes, most people require about seven to eight hours of continuous sleep to accomplish this objective.

A chronic lack of good rest, therefore, has an impact on your ability to focus, learn, and feel proactive throughout the day.

It’s actually darker: People who have numerous night awakenings are more likely to develop dementia or die sooner as they get older, according to studies.

Breathing difficulties

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There’s another reason why sleeping with pets all night may be harmful to your health. If you have asthma, allergies, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, keeping a furball might be difficult.

“My asthma patients, my COPD patients, they always say, ‘Hey Doc, don’t worry. My dog doesn’t shed,” Dasgupta added.

“And I explain to them, ‘Yes, but remember that allergens are present in saliva and the dog’s skin. You will be exposed to allergens for eight hours at night, resulting in watery eyes and a stuffy nose.

In addition to the animal’s movement, this might prevent you from getting good sleep,’ ” he continued.

Not all pets should be included in the family bed.

Let’s get back to your pet’s best interests: When is it not a good idea for a furry companion to sleep with you?

“Obviously, young puppies or dogs that are working through behavioral difficulties, it may be harmful to them to sleep with you,” Varble said.

We teach that kennels are a secure environment if your dog has a medical condition, a young puppy, or a dog going through behavioral training.”

There are other reasons to avoid the family bed. “Even if your pet is not shedding and you have no allergies, even if you’re not snoring, it’s probably still not a good idea,” Varble added.

“It’s important to have a sleeping area in your dog’s kennel that has three sides so they don’t feel like they’re just ‘protecting’ themselves from one perspective.

We want to teach them about the security of their home,” she stated. There are some dogs, according to Varble, who should never be invited into bed.

“If you have a dog with separation anxiety, which is quite common in rescue dogs, they are likely to destroy the home when left alone. “

Dogs that have been aggressive toward other people or animals may also bring an increased risk into your bed. According to Varble, known levels of violence should keep all pets off the mattress.

Leave a comment below, do you sleep with your pet and how does that affect your sleep?

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