Sleeping with your Pet
Do you let your dog or your cat sleep in your bed at night? Little less than one-half of all pet owners share their bed or bedroom with their pet. Surely you have likely been told by at least one well-meaning person that your pet should sleep in his crate, but according to recent research, there are many benefits to co-sleeping with your cat and dog.
Sleeping in the same bedroom or bed as our pets is not just a modern phenomenon. Some traditional cultures considered co-sleeping with animals as beneficial. For example, Aboriginal Australians often slept beside their dingoes for warmth and protection from evil spirits. Unfortunately, modern culture tends to focus on the negative aspects of co-sleeping rather than the benefits.
However, pets and human sleep cycles differ and this can affect the quality of sleep. Previous studies have shown that owners sharing a bed with their pet report greater sleep disturbances than people whose pets did not sleep in their bed. One factor that may explain this difference is that cats and dogs are polyphasic sleepers and average three sleep/wake cycles per nighttime hour, whereas humans are monophasic sleepers (one period of sleep over a 24-hour cycle). Dogs also stay alert for sounds, even when sleeping, which may make them lighter sleepers than their humans.
For a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog or cat, it’s quite unlikely that sleeping in your bed or bedroom will do anything except delight him, comfort you, and enhance the animal-owner bond, and the benefits likely outweigh the disadvantages. Studies have shown many physical and mental health advantages to owning a pet, and co-sleeping increases the amount of time spent with that pet, potentially increasing those benefits. For example, co-sleeping can increase the feelings of comfort and companionship your animal provides.
Co-sleeping with your dog can also ease anxiety and provide a feeling of safety and security. Your light-sleeping canine will alert you to anything out of the ordinary, so you can rest easy through the night. Dogs are also perfect bed warmers, keeping you toasty on a cold night. And finally, there is no substitute for waking up to a tail-wagging dog.