Sleep with your cat or dog? How that may affect you (and your pet)

In search of better sleep, people often ask if they should share their bed with a pet. Before we get to that, let’s take a moment to think about the downside:

Sleeps with she good for you domestic animal?

“I think it’s great that we’re turning the question around,” said Dr. Dana Varble, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the North American Veterinary Community. “In general, it is a very good thing for animals to sleep with their humans.”

“Pets that share their human’s bed tend to have a“ higher level of trust and a closer bond with the people who are in their lives. It’s a huge vote of confidence on their part, “said Varble.

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“In general, it is a very good thing for animals to sleep with their humans.” (Diego Cervo – stock.adobe.com)

dogs and Cats People who are more connected to their humans enjoy additional health benefits, including increases in beneficial neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones, “she added.

Do only dogs and cats benefit from human bed partners? Yes, said Varble, with “very, very few exceptions”.

“I have an owner who has a carefully cared-for pot-bellied pig that sleeps at the foot of his bed,” she said. “It’s a domestic pig called Norbert – pot-bellied pigs are almost like dogs because they are very social.” (Norbert even has his own Instagram account.)

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Norbert the pot-bellied pig sleeps with its owner. (CNN)

Advantages and disadvantages for humans

Now that we’ve got this important matter out of the way, let’s turn to you – is it good for? she sleep with a pet? Experts have traditionally said no because you may not get good quality.

“Animals can move, bark and disturb sleep. Sleep in dogs (and cats) is not continuous and they will inevitably get up, walk on the bed, and step on people. All of these activities will lead to sleep fragmentation, ”said Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky, director of sleep research and professor in the medical school at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Woman in bed with her dog

Yes, my pet sleeps with me.

Toby a

No, I won’t let my pet sleep in my bed.

These “micro-awakenings,” which can occur without your consciousness, “are disruptive because they wake you up from deep sleep,” said Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“They have been linked to the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make sleep worse.”

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Cat in bedLynx also sleeps in bed with his owner. (CNN)

This may be true for many of us, but recent studies have shown that having pets in the bedroom could be beneficial for some of us.

“People with depression or anxiety can benefit from having their pet in bed because the pet is one big pillow, one big blanket, and they feel like this snuggly, snuggly, furry creature is reducing their anxiety,” said sleep specialist Dr . Raj Dasgupta. Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

2017 data from the Sleep Medicine Center at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix found that more than half of the pet owners seen at the clinic allowed their pet to sleep in the bedroom – and the majority found that their pet was “inconspicuous or even beneficial to sleep”.

However, about 20 percent believed their furry friends made their sleep worse.

Other Study 2017 use sleep trackers on dogs and their humans to measure the quality of rest for both. People who had their dogs in the bedroom got a decent night’s sleep (and so did the dogs), the research team found.

However, sleep quality decreased when people took their dog off the floor to bed.

Halloween dogs

Pets in Halloween costumes

Children can also benefit from sleeping with a pet. A Study 2021 asked teens ages 13-17 to wear sleep trackers for two weeks and then undergo a state-of-the-art sleep test. About a third of the children slept with a pet, the study found, which didn’t seem to affect the quality of their rest.

“In fact, frequent co-sleepers showed similar sleep profiles to those who had never slept with pets,” the authors write.

“All of this suggests that having pets in the bed or bedroom isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” said Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic Sleep Medicine Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

“Successfully sleeping with your pet has a lot to do with how deeply you and your pet are sleeping.” (nadia_snopek – stock.adobe.com)

“There can be significant psychological comfort to having your pet around, which can help both induce and maintain sleep,” said Kolla.

“However, if patients report that the pet’s movements or other activities are disrupting their sleep, we advise them to look for alternative arrangements for the pet at night and see if this helps them sleep,” he added.

Two puppies

The top 15 pet names of 2021 have been revealed

A setup for success

Successful sleeping with your pet has a lot to do with how deep You and your pet are sleeping, says clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Michael Breus, the author of “Good night: The sleep doctor’s 4-week program for better sleep and better health. “

“Dogs are usually fine all night long, but cats can be very nocturnal,” said Breus. Another factor is “how much you move, since the movement of the animal can wake you up and vice versa.”

Pets can, just like humans snore and disturb sleepSo be sure to take this into account, said Breus. Small dogs and cats often enjoy snuggling up under the covers with their humans, but doing so can raise your body temperature and disrupt your sleep. (The best sleeping temperature is a little cool, at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18.3 degrees Celsius.)

If you are thinking of putting your fur baby to bed, Breus suggested that you only try a few nights so that you don’t condition your pet to expect it before deciding if it’s good for you.

Some of us should abstain

Despite the new science, many of us still have to think twice about putting our dogs, cats, or domestic pigs in our beds.

“It is particularly harmful in people with insomnia or in patients with other sleep disorders – patients who have delayed sleep (post-owling) or even people with sleep apnea who wake up after having stopped breathing and then cannot go back to sleep. Said Polotsky.

“Sleeping with pets doesn’t necessarily predispose or induce insomnia, but it could perpetuate it.” (Getty)

Up to 30 percent of the American public suffers from insomnia and at least 25 million adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“Insomniacs are the most vulnerable,” said Polotsky. “Sleeping with pets doesn’t necessarily predispose or induce insomnia, but it could perpetuate it.”

Every time your sleep cycles are disrupted, you disrupt the brain’s ability to repair itself at the cellular level, solidifying memories, storing new information, and preparing the body for optimal performance.

The “sweet spot” for a real recovery is when you can sleep four to six times a night continuously through the four phases of sleep. Since each cycle is around 90 minutes long, most people need seven to eight hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep to achieve this goal.

Therefore, a chronic lack of solid rest affects your ability to pay attention, learn new things, be creative, solve problems, and make decisions.

It’s getting darker: Studies have shown that people who wake up frequently at night are at high risk of developing dementia in old age or of dying early for any reason.

If you have asthma, allergies, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you shouldn’t sleep with your ball of fur. (Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Breathing problems

There’s one more reason why cuddling with pets all night is not good for your health. If you’re one of the millions with asthma, allergies, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleeping with a ball of fur could turn into a nightmare.

“My asthma patients, my COPD patients, always say, ‘Hey Doc, don’t worry, my dog ​​isn’t shedding,'” said Dasgupta, who is also a pulmonologist.

“And I tell them, ‘Yes, but remember, allergens are in the saliva, they are in the dog’s skin. So you will be exposed to allergens for eight hours at night and suffer from watery eyes and a blocked nose with the animal’s movement could prevent you from sleeping well, “he said.

Young women in green sweaters sit on the chair, hold each other and cuddle a tri-colored guinea pig.It is best not to let your guinea pig sleep in your bed. (Getty)

Some pets should not be placed in the family bed

Getting back to what’s best for your pet, when isn’t it a good idea to have a furry friend sleeping with you?

“Of course, it is not good for young puppies or dogs dealing with behavior problems to sleep with you,” said Varble. “If you have a dog with fear, we teach you that kennels are a safe place.

“Zwinger with three sides give you the feeling that you only have to ‘protect yourself’ from one point of view. We want to teach them that there is a safe place in your home, ”she said.

And there are some pets, said Varble, that should never be invited to bed for a spoonful.

“I work with exotic pets and many of them have very specific health and safety requirements, including keeping them in an enclosure,” said Varble. “So I know people who are very close to their ferrets and guinea pigs, but they have to be in their enclosure at night for their health. These are not animals that we want to have in bed with us.”

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Bert Newton with wife Patti (left), children Matthew and Lauren (center) and grandson Alby (right)

Bert Newton’s family life in pictures