Sure, there’s research out there that suggests it’s best not to sleep with your pet. But that’s easy to say when you aren’t looking into the eyes of a fluffy, cuddly animal trying to sneak into bed with you.
Luckily for pet owners, there are benefits to your mental health and general well-being from sleeping with your pet. A survey by the Slumber Yard found that one in four adults who own a pup would rather sleep with their dog than their own significant others — for good reasons.
The participants explained how sleeping with their pooch reduced stress, promoted a sense of safety, decreased loneliness and even helped improve their sleep. There’s even science to back these claims, as cuddling with your pet releases a naturally occurring chemical in your body called oxytocin. This chemical boosts feelings of happiness and helps reduce stress. It can also promote the production of theta brain waves that occur during focus, meditation, prayer and sleep.
To many dog owners, if sleeping with their pet means washing the sheets more often, so be it. Just make sure you and your four-legged friend are getting enough sleep.
For more tips on getting better rest while co-sleeping, here’s why you should use two comforters when sleeping with a partner and how to sleep cooler next to a hot-sleeping S.O.
Getting the best rest with your pet
Sleep helps regulate mood, memory, knowledge retention, decision making, your immune system and more. Animals need 11 to 16 hours of sleep to properly function and feel fueled for their day. The key to sleeping well beside your pet is to set boundaries, and properly arrange yourselves so neither you nor your pet experience recurring disturbances in the middle of the night.
Here are a few ways you can keep your furry companion in bed with you without compromising your sleep (or theirs).
1. Don’t forget to do this at bedtime
You should always take your pet outside to let them do their business before tucking yourself into bed. A bedtime potty break prevents them from having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, limiting nighttime disruptions.
2. Give your pet their own spot on the bed
Your animal should have his or her own spot on your mattress where they can consistently sleep, like you or your co-sleeper probably do. It’s best to keep your pet near the bottom of the bed on top of the covers. This ensures you and your pet aren’t disturbing each other while you’re sleeping, and your sheets stay cleaner against hair, pet dander and dirt.
3. Prevent wear and tear for your mattress
Speaking of hair, pet dander and dirt, a mattress protector is helpful when it comes to keeping your mattress free from stains and household allergens. Your bed is in more danger of wear and tear when owning an animal. With a mattress protector, your bed stays fresher from accidents and muddy paws, and you extend its shelf life.
4. Go to bed at a regular time
Bedtimes aren’t just for your kids, nieces or little cousins. People and pets can both benefit from going to bed at a regular time each night. It helps set our circadian rhythms, or our body’s internal clock that runs our sleep wake cycles. Eventually, your body will begin to recognize when bedtime nears and produce melatonin, a chemical that helps you fall asleep.
5. Consider a larger mattress
Sharing a mattress with your four-legged friend is a lot easier when you have enough space for you and your co-sleepers. If you sleep with another human and a pet, you should at least have a queen sized mattress. If you have a medium to large dog, you may even want to consider a king-sized bed. Otherwise, you spend the night rearranging yourself or accidentally nudging each other when getting comfortable.
6. Don’t skip their vet visits
Not only is it important to maintain cleanliness when you co-sleep with your pet, but you should also ensure your animal is feeling good and healthy. Stay up to date on all vaccinations or shots for your pet to prevent you from getting sick.