Do you cuddle up with your Frenchie or fight for pillow space with a cat?
Well, you’re not alone. And according to research from the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, sharing a bed with your pet could help you get a good night’s sleep.
In a study of 150 people, just under half of which owned pets, 20% said having pets in the bedroom was disruptive, but 41% said their pets were “unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep”.
Results included gems like this: “One married woman described her two small dogs as ‘bed warmers’” and “one 50-year-old woman did ‘not mind when my lovely cat’ slept on her chest.”
Although the 2015 study only looked at a small group of people, it concluded that healthcare professionals working with patients suffering from sleep problems should explore whether their pet could help them sleep more easily. (We can only assume the researchers were thinking of cats and dogs; getting some shuteye with an iguana in your arms might be a bit tricky.)
But even cat and dog owners have varied experiences. Some swear by snuggling up to their four-legged friend to help them relax, while others have felt tormented by cats tromping around their mattress all night.
In fact, the very same Center for Sleep Medicine previously found that many people feel their pets are disturbing their sleep.
So if you're thinking about bunking with a furry friend, there are some things you need to consider. First of all, sleeping with a pet might not be particularly healthy if you have any breathing problems. And if you have a large dog and allow them to sleep with you from a young age, you might ultimately find yourself running out of room on your bed — especially if you go on to buy another pet.
In a case cited on WebMD, a pet owner with two Weimaraners struggled to train them to sleep on the floor. She said: “We finally got a water bottle and squirted him when he tried to get into bed with us. It was a three-month process to get them to sleep in their own beds, but we’re worthless unless we get eight hours sleep, so we had to get this under control. Now we all get a good night’s sleep.”
If you're struggling with your pet's behavior issues like barking or howling at night, you can give crate training a try. You can also ask your vet about behavior issues. And if sleep problems ever lead to other health issues, they might even be covered by dog insurance.