Our pets are part of the family which makes it very hard to shut the bedroom door on them night after night. This attachment to our pets has led to around 50% of pet owners letting their pets sleep in their beds during the night.
With that figure in mind, the question is, are pets a healthy bed partner to have?
Well, just like most situations in life, there are pros and cons, as outlined in an Australian study.
Let’s start with the cons:
- Different sleep wake cycle – if your cat demands breakfast at 3 am or starts zoomies around the room, this can be disruptive to sleep and is unlikely to change.
- Risk of germs being transferred to the bed/you – it’s not a good idea to share a pillow with your pets, but if pets are clean and stick to the end of the bed, this helps to mitigate any hygiene issues along with keeping pets in good health via regular vet checks.
- Potential to cause behavioural issues such as separation anxiety if your pet gets too used to being with you.
- Potential for conflict in human relationships – if one person doesn’t want the pet in the bed but the other does this can cause conflict and resentment.
- Restricted movement if the pet is at your feet and you become uncomfortable but can’t move, again disrupting sleep. To overcome this, set some boundaries on where your pet sleeps!
And now the pros:
- Pets in the bed can result in a sense of comfort and security which helps with sleep.
- Owners feel less guilt about where their pet is sleeping and not having to say no to the pet, this would also promote better sleep.
- Pets may bring increased warmth during winter.
- Knowing where your pet is at night can help reduce anxiety or fear.
- Allows for increased bonding with pets and an opportunity to spend more time with pets, especially if you are out all day.
- Pets love it! Need I say more?
What about children and adolescents?
A recent study has shown that children and adolescents who share a bed with a pet experience no negative impact on their sleep. In fact, the opposite was found, specifically, children and adolescents reported higher perceived sleep quality and this is likely because they feel at ease having a “friend” in the bed.
Overall, there doesn’t appear to be any striking negative health reasons not to allow pets in your bed. It really comes down to personal preference and if it’s working for you (and your pet), then there appear to be some positives associated with sleeping with your pet, which is great news for everyone, especially pets!