Humans and dogs have been sleeping together in some cultures for thousands of years! Several surveys have shown that roughly 60 percent of all dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in their bed with them. Dog owners give a variety of reasons for sharing their beds with their canine companions, one of the most common being that dogs are warm and cuddly. But is there any science to back up letting your dog into your bed at night? And on the other hand, is there anything saying you should keep your dog from doing so?
Reasons to let your furry friend cuddle up at night include:
#1 For one thing, your dog likes sleeping with you! Your dog thinks of you as his or her best friend and wants the relationship to be mutual. It is general knowledge that dogs are pack animals. Not only did their ancestors hunt together, but they also slept together at night for warmth and security. It is in their nature to sleep in a pile on top of each other; it’s when they feel most secure and comfortable- snuggled up against their pack mates. No wonder they try to replicate that feeling of warmth and coziness with you!
#2 Your dog helps you to relax after a long day. In order to fall asleep and stay asleep, we need to feel relaxed. This is why it is recommended to read, drink tea, take a bath, and do a few stretches before bed. While lying next to you, a dog's rhythmic breathing can help lull you to sleep. Actually, just being near a dog increases your flow of oxytocin, the hormone associated with affection and happiness. Focusing on your puppy and getting some cuddle time in is a great alternative to scrolling through your phone right before falling asleep. There’s no surprise there; you love your dog and your dog loves you right back!
#3 It may make you feel safer. It’s no secret that a dog is a great companion! A third reason for sleeping with a dog is that they can make us feel safe at night. This is particularly true for those who sleep alone. It’s understandable to feel somewhat vulnerable when we lie in a big bed, alone in the dark. Sleeping with your dog can ease anxiety and provide feelings of safety and security. The presence of a dog, even a small one, can give us a sense of protection. This in turn allows us to sleep better.
Avoid letting your dog sleep in bed with you if:
#1 You are concerned about health issues. One of the top arguments against letting your dog sleep with you is hygiene, and it is not difficult to see why. Dogs spend a lot of time outside, either in your backyard or on a walk, stepping their paws in things you don’t want to find in your bed. Beyond dirt and mud, they can also bring fleas, parasites, or ticks to bed which could seriously impact your health. Of course, allergies come into play here too. No one wants to wake up sneezing with watery eyes! And what if your dog has an accident at night? Cleaning or replacing a stained mattress is a pretty good argument against letting an animal into your bed!
#2 It negatively affects your sleep in any way. The major reason medical practitioners don't want you to sleep with your dog is that they may disturb you. In a survey, 53 percent of pet owners reported that their dogs tend to wake them at least once on any given night. Dog and human sleep cycles differ and this can affect the quality of sleep. If letting your dog into your bed at night hurts your sleep satisfaction in any way, don’t do it. There’s no shame in it! Maybe their tossing and turning wakes you up. Perhaps you don’t like the dog hair on your pillow. Maybe it’s a space issue. A new mattress can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, so it’s an investment. If you prefer not to have a dog climb on top of something you want to treat with great care, that’s understandable. If you sleep better solo, stick to it. Your sleep is too important to your health and happiness to compromise.
Whether it is a good idea to let your dog sleep in your bed or not is a personal decision each pet owner needs to make as an individual, and it is dependent on your health, mattress size, sleep needs, and your dog. If you don’t have any allergies or a worry of dirt and your canine companion doesn’t hurt your sleep, there is no reason why he or she should not live out his natural pack instinct to sleep together with you. If you get a better night sleep alone, that’s fine too! Just remember to be consistent. Whatever your sleeping preference is, stick to it so your dog knows what is allowed and what isn’t. You’ll both be happier this way!