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Animals and Sleep Part 4: Sleeping With Your Animals

girl sleeping with her dog

If you’ve ever curled up with a cat on your lap or a dog curled up against you, you know the cozy feeling that comes from curling up with the pets you love. I’d be remiss if I didn’t explore this all-important relationship in my blog series on animals and sleep. So is it safe to sleep with your pets? Here are some of the risks, and some of the rewards.

The Risks…

  • Allergies:  Derek Damin of Kentuckiana Allergy, Asthma & Immunology told WebMD that people with allergies shouldn’t have animals in the bedroom. Instead, he says, “give your nose a few hours a day to recover.”
  • Sleep disruptions: Dogs and cats can snore, kick, and wake you at odd hours or early in the morning. If you have trouble sleeping, removing the animals from the equation may be the best way to get the sleep you need to be healthy.
  • Illnesses: Animals can pass some illnesses to their owners, according to NBC News. Ranging from bubonic plague to some forms of worms, these instances are rare but they do occur.

…And the Rewards

  • Keep them out of trouble: Pets who sleep with their owners are comfortable and secure. They are less likely to get into trouble while their human counterparts are asleep… they won’t be chewing up the couch or swiping cat treats while you snooze.
  • Stress relief: Touching, whether between humans or between a person and a pet, raises levels of oxytocin in the body (according to the New York Times). This increases our sense of contentment, so sleeping with a pet can be a real source of stress relief for a person who is lonely, depressed, anxious, or simply overtaxed.
  • Insomnia relief: Candace Hunziker, who sleeps with her lab mix, told WebMD her whole family suffers from insomnia and they all sleep with their pets. “She sleeps against me and she has very rhythmic breathing,” says Hunziker, and “she puts me to sleep better than an Ambien.”

The Bottom Line

In the end, it’s up to you. If you choose to sleep with your animals, have them regularly checked by your veterinarian to be certain of their health. Animals and sleep don’t always go together, so if you find yourself feeling tired during the day, consider keeping your pets out of the bedroom—or at least off the bed.

Author Bio: +Michelle Gordon is a sleep expert who researches and writes about sleep and health, and is an online publisher for the latex mattress specialist

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