If you can’t imagine sleeping without your pet in your room, it turns out you’re in good company. Many pet owners enjoy the companionship and security of having a pet in the bedroom at night. No matter where your pet sleeps—in the corner, under the bed, on the bed—both you and your pet need to respect each other’s space so you can get the best sleep possible.
What Does Healthy Sleep Look Like?
The average adult needs a full seven to eight hours of sleep to be fully rested and functional. Getting healthy restful sleep requires going through all five stages of sleep. A complete cycle takes anywhere from 90-110 minutes.
Reaching the deepest stages—stages 3, 4, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep— is critical to keeping your immune system, hormone levels, and brain working at their best. Muscles are repaired, illnesses are battled, and the body is cleansed during these deep levels of sleep. If you’re not reaching all five stages, you may get a full seven hours of sleep, but you’ll still feel tired in the morning.
Without adequate rest, your immune system doesn’t function effectively, which means you get sick longer and more often. Sleep is vital for appetite control, critical thinking skills, and reasoning ability. Essentially, without enough sleep, you won’t be at your best.
Sleep with Your Pet—Pros
Healthy sleep should leave you feeling rested, energized, and ready to face the day. People who sleep well report better moods and a positive self-perception. For some people, getting that healthy sleep requires a pet in the bedroom.
The question lies in whether or not both you and your pet get adequate rest while sharing a room or, in some cases, a bed. Research shows that many people find having their pet in the bedroom with them while they sleep a source of comfort. It’s easy to see why.
Pets, especially dogs, bring with them a sense of security. Animals are often more alert to potential danger. Stories of pets alerting their owners to a fire or burglars are common and well known. Having that extra security can help relieve fear or stress related to personal safety.
Security isn’t the only benefit of having a pet in your bedroom. Pets also offer comfort. Animals can often sense your emotional well being even in your sleep. For those who live alone, have anxiety or depression, a pet can provide a way to ease stress, anxiety, and loneliness.
Sleep with Your Pet—Cons
While research shows a pet in your bedroom can offer comfort and security for better sleep, that same research also indicates that a pet in your bed reduces the quality of your sleep. Another body in the bed means more movement, noise, and less space.
Like kids, pets aren’t concerned about how much room you have in the bed. Pet owners who sleep with their pets take longer to fall asleep and wake up more often during the night. Those disturbances could get in the way of reaching those deep stages of sleep.
However, even though their sleep isn’t the best quality, these same pet owners are happy and satisfied. They don’t find their pets disturbances to be affecting their quality of life. Essentially, they take the sleep disturbances as the price they pay for sleeping with their pet.
What’s right for you will depend on you, your spouse, and your pet. There are, however, a few things you can do to keep your pet in your room and get better sleep.
How to Get Better Sleep with Your Pet
1) Move Your Pet Out of the Bed
While sleeping with your pet in the room is healthy for you both, sharing a bed is not. You’ll get better sleep if your pet has a designated area in the room but off of your bed. That can be a pet bed on the floor, crate, or other comfortable area separated from your bed. You won’t run into each other at night, and it gives you some distance if your pet is a noisy sleeper. If you’re determined to sleep with your dog, consider a firm bed like a latex mattress or another mattress that isolates motion transfer (so you don’t feel it when your pet wiggles).
Note: If you suffer from allergies, a pet in the bed can make allergies worse.
2) Use Positive Reinforcement and Don’t Break the Rules
If your pet is used to sleeping in your bed, the move out might not be easy. Use positive reinforcement to ease the transition. Once you’ve started the transition, don’t back down. Pets respond to consistency. Bending the rules when you feel like it could result in begging and more disturbances than if you hadn’t started the transition in the first place.
3) Take a Potty Run Before Bed
A dog that needs to pee during the night poses a bit of a problem. Let your pet outside to relieve himself right before you go to bed. That’s one less interruption for you both.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.