Sleeping With your Dog – Benefits for People and Dogs
If yours is one of the 60 million American households owning a dog, you probably know how hard it can be to resist and not allow your furry friend to sleep on the bed with you.
But here’s the good news: Sleeping with your dog, assuming that he is healthy, clean, and dewormed, can be good for both of you.
Let’s take a closer look at what benefits you might get if you let your dog onto your bed.
Four-Legged Heating Pad
A dog can replace a pile of bottles with hot water you may be putting in your bed to keep warm. This will be particularly useful for those who tend to have cold feet.
A dog’s body temperature usually ranges between 101 and 102.5F. Humans have a much lower range: their core temperature falls between 97.6 and 99.6F.
That’s why your dog may feel as warm as a heating pad, keeping you from getting cold during winter nights. Which might as well help you save on electricity, right?
Now, here also lies a benefit for your dog. Your body is able to reflect some heat, so he will also feel warmer during the night.
You Will Feel More Secure
Anxiety is a common cause of episodes of insomnia.
If you’re prone to getting anxious, especially before sleep, your dog may be able to help you. Especially if you own a large breed.
As well as body warmth, the presence of the dog near you can help you feel more secure and alleviate anxious thoughts.
Also, the rhythmic breathing of a dog may have a soothing effect, allowing you to fall asleep faster. A self-reported study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic supports this: 41% of participants said that they felt more secure when their dog stayed in the bedroom at night.
Note that it’s not mandatory to allow your furry friend to sleep on the master bed: you can arrange their own sleeping spot on the floor near your bed.
And the best thing is, the feeling of security that sleeping with your dog gives you can trigger the production of serotonin, melatonin, and other substances that are beneficial for a sound and restorative sleep.
Also, serotonin can help you reduce anxiety, increase stress tolerance, and lift your mood.
Pain-relieving Magic of Dogs
Animal therapy is an effective treatment in many situations. Petting a dog or caring for it can reduce feelings of loneliness and may even have a mild antidepressant effect (as a part of comprehensive therapy).
But did you know that sleeping with your dog may also relieve chronic pain?
A study performed by researchers at Alberta University reported that having a dog in the bed resulted in several benefits for patients with chronic pain:
- reduced stress and anxiety;
- shorter sleep onset;
- mild to moderate pain relief.
Scientists think that these results might be linked to the endorphin boost that happens when you pet or cuddle a dog. Plus, a dog needs regular walks and play time, and hence, can promote some physical activity and help you naturally get tired before sleep.
Bonding and Loyalty
It’s not a secret that dogs are very loyal creatures and see their owner as the most important person in the world.
If you have a regular job and spend a lot of time away from home, your dog may even start experiencing depression and anxiety, which will adversely affect their health.
Sharing the bed with your four-legged friend can help him feel loved and increase the emotional bonding between you two. Thus, sleeping together can improve your relationship with your pet.
There’s one interesting thing:
Some dog owners think that their pet may become spoiled if they allow him to sleep on the master bed, assuming that this would make him feel equal to his owner.
This assumption is partially correct.
Your dog may misbehave, but only if he already has some behavioral issues. Dogs with good mental health usually understand the hierarchy in the house and accept their position in it.
Anyway, it’s better to consult a dog behavior expert or a vet if you’re concerned, and then decide whether you should allow bed-sharing, or create a separate sleeping spot for your pet.
Postscript: Who Shouldn’t Sleep with their Dogs?
Although sleeping with your dog has many bright sides, some people are recommended to avoid it.
- Sensitive sleepers. Most people can tolerate the presence of the dog in their bed. But don’t forget that dogs have a shorter duration of a sleeping cycle than humans and may move a lot during sleep. Thus, if you’re a person that can be alarmed even by a gentle breeze from the window, it’s better to keep your dog away from the bed.
- People with immune deficiencies. Your dog can carry dirt and pathogenic microorganisms on his paws and fur. Even if you bathe him daily, the chance of transmitting these pathogens to you still exists, so it’s better to avoid sleeping with your dog if you have a compromised immune system or an autoimmune disease.