Should our dogs be co sleeping with us?
Ask a dozen people and get a dozen different answers. Some will say, “sure, absolutely!” Others will tell you just as absolutely, “no way!”
Everyone decides for different reasons.
You might feel closer to your dog with them sharing your bed. Maybe you feel lonely if they’re not snuggled up with you. Or maybe you’re a restless sleeper and don’t like being trapped by your dog sprawled out in the bed (this would be me).
Whatever your motivation, every pet parent has to decide on whether to allow co-sleeping or not.
Dog bedtime routine
In my case, Hubby and I allow Boo & Lorelei up on the bed for cuddle time. But when we’re ready to turn off the lights, both dogs know that it’s “bedtime.” They get up, stretch, and head off to their beds.
In fact, if we’re too restless while we’re reading, Boo will leave early – usually with a huff at the fidgety humans.
Lorelei is more tolerant… mostly because she wants to share my husband’s pillow for as long as possible.
But she too heads down to her own cozy puppy bed when the time comes. (and then hubby tucks in his Princess like a small child – too adorable!!)
There are pros and cons to letting your pets co-sleep with you.
Pros and cons of sleeping with a dog
That’s what I want to explore today.
And for once, someone has done the research for me!! I’m going to review an article from an organization called, Tuck Sleep.
Tuck’s entire mission is “advancing better sleep.”
A while back, their community relations person reached out to us to share their research.
Kellen told us that Tuck Sleep is a non-commercial community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.
Tuck has been referenced by Well + Good, Smithsonian Magazine, Shape, Harvard University and by many sleep organizations across the web.
That’s a great mission and some impressive connections!
So, I thought I’d check out their pieces and see how they measure up to the quality I like to provide to you – my devoted readers.
I have to tell you – I am impressed!
And I do not impress easily.
As a writer, I’m thorough when I review someone’s work. (In my “outside Patch” life, I’m an email and content specialist and editor – I’m PICKY).
I’m going to focus on their piece about sharing the bed.
Before reading this article, I had no idea that there were health considerations.
I knew that some people love their pets on the bed and others either don’t like it or don’t approve. I know that some people start in one camp and end up at the other.
(side story – my mother swore 30 years ago that dogs would NEVER be in her bedroom – that didn’t last — they sleep on her bed).
But it turns out that besides personal choice, there are health pros and cons to sharing your bed with your pups.
Health pros and cons of co-sleeping with your dog
For emotional health, many people feel more secure and relaxed when sleeping alongside their dogs. Some feel protected (my dogs make great alarms, but not guards). Both you and your dog may feel closer as a result of sharing the bed.
Sleeping with your dogs can have a negative impact on your sleep – although the research indicated that the effect didn’t last all day. Still, it’s something to consider if you have sleep issues.
Since dogs dream just like we do, they can also “talk” in their sleep.
They can mumble, groan, grunt, whimper, or bark. Not to mention thrashing about as they chase that squirrel in their dream.
Some dogs are restless at night and can interrupt your sleep. They scratch and jingle their collar tags – and bounce the bed. Or they stretch out – and take up more space.
And they get up to change positions – and take up yet more space.
Another perk is that your dog’s breathing can be relaxing to hear as you drift off. It acts as a form of “white noise” that blocks out more disruptive sounds.
Their body heat can be both a pro and a con. If you tend to run cold, your cuddly pup can help you warm up and stay warm. But if you run warmer (or have hot flashes), you’ll want to either skip sharing the bed or turn the thermostat down a few degrees.
Co-sleeping with your dog if you have allergies
One large potential negative to co-sleeping is for anyone with allergies, asthma, or other lung issues.
Even if you’re not allergic to dogs, you may not want to share your bed if you have any of these issues.
Your dog’s coat gathers pollen, dust, and other allergens all day. And if they sleep on your bed at night, they bring all that to your mattress, pillow, and covers.
My separate research shows that people with asthma and other lung problems can see more complications. Pet dander and allergens can act like “sandpaper” on your lungs while you sleep, increasing the severity of flares and symptoms.
The article also points out something very important about illnesses.
Can you get sick if you co-sleep with your dog?
Pets can walk in all sorts of things that don’t bother them – but that would bother us. Things like the droppings of other animals. Dirt, mud, etc.
These things can all have parasites, bacteria, and viruses. And they track these things into our homes. If you co-sleep, they track them into your bed, too.
Sometimes, it’s enough to cause you to contract an illness.
The risks are pretty low though. If you’re a germaphobe, wash your pup’s paws before bed at night.
If you’re the sort of pet parent who would LOVE to share the bed, the article even has a few tips for sleeping with your pets!
I want to thank Kellen and the crew at Tuck Sleep for a fantastic article.
It’s very informative, and chock full of great research for making an informed choice about co-sleeping. I hope you enjoy it!
They also have tons of resources on sleep disorders, mattresses, sleep health and medicine, and much more. So, if you have questions about your sleep, they may have your answers!
For more information on health & safety, read Spaying and Neutering — should you or no?
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