In 2014 Mayo Clinic concluded that a lot of patients who had difficulty sleeping did in fact share bed with their pets, mostly cats and dogs. But a new study found that cuddling with your fur baby/friend will actually make you sleep better.
Mayo Clinic has surveyed 150 patients that visited the facility’s Center for Sleep Medicine. The patients answered questions about their sleeping habits, pets’ behavior as well as sleeping locations, and how their pets affect their sleep. Researchers then found that 56% participants sleep with pets and even though 20% of those don’t have good sleep, 41% said they do.
People who get better sleep when they share the same bed with their pets said that the fur babies give them relaxation, a sense of companionship, and security. Which is why most of the participants had no problems with it.
“Respondents described feeling secure, content and relaxed when their pet slept nearby,” the study authors wrote. “The value of these experiences, although poorly understood, cannot be dismissed because sleep is dependent on a state of physical and mental relaxation.”
The effect on anxiety
Not just Mayo Clinic, University of Alberta also did similar study albeit smaller. They found that people with chronic pain sleep better when they share bed with their pets. It also makes people feel less lonely, reduces anxiety, and gives people a sense of security as mentioned before.
Researcher Cary Brown said, “They liked the physical contact with their dogs—cuddling before bed, and how it distracted them from feeling anxious about being alone at night. They felt more relaxed and safer so they weren’t anxious as they were trying to sleep.”
Additionally, a Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine specialist, Dr Lois Krahn, said that some people actually feel cozy when they sleep with their animals. “One woman said her two small dogs kind of warmed her bed. Another person felt her cat who was touching her during the night was comforting and soothing,” said the doctor.
This I agree wholeheartedly, especially when my cat purrs because it’s like a lullaby to me. In case you didn’t know (and I’ll reiterate this from time to time haha), cat’s purr is very therapeutic as stated in this site.
Moreover, if you’re struggling with mental health like depression, know that sleeping with your pets helps you fight or reduce it. Our pets depend on us and that gives people purpose and meaning to their lives. In turn, we get to see a lot of cute and adorable things that make us appreciate life more.
Dogs and multiple pets
Even though having pets on your bed has benefits, it also has its downside. 40 adults, mostly women with an average age of 44 with their dogs were the subject of another study. Researchers concluded that participants sleep better when the dog was in the same room, but not on the bed.
This study involved people with one dog, though, so the conclusion doesn’t give us the exact information whether more than one pet on the bed would cause sleep disruptions. In 2013, about 10% of people who visited the Center for Sleep Medicine said that their pets disturbed their sleep. And it turned out that most people with complaints lived with more than one pet.
One of the authors of the report said that from a sleep standpoint, multiple pets would increase the risk of bad sleep. One would think that the bigger the animals are, the less quality of sleep that people would have. It makes sense, since having, let’s say, three pugs on the bed as opposed to three great danes minimize disturbance, right? But the study couldn’t actually confirm that.
Some sleep experts say to never sleep with pets, but the others say that the sleep quality depends on the person and the pet. A dog can follow your sleep schedule while another goes bonkers periodically. The same thing goes to cats. I’m thankful to have a cat that sleeps when I sleep, but it’s also not strange to find cats that are active during night time.
W. Christopher Winter, a sleep medicine expert at Charlottesville Neurology & Sleep Medicine in Virginia said, “I don’t have a problem sleeping with your dog until you complain that sleeping with your dog is problematic.”
Basically, if your fur babies are not good bed mates, it’s better if you give them separate pet beds or a crate in your bedroom. That way, you can still have similar effect or benefit but you don’t have to be interrupted by them moving around.
Another sleep medicine expert at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Charles Bae, said that people should evaluate whether sleeping with pets are the right way for them. If they find that they sleep better without pets, then it’s time to give them separate bed.
On the other hand, if the sleep quality doesn’t change regardless of who’s in the bed, then sharing a bed with pets can give people advantages. Bae said, “Pets can help people with anxiety and help people relax. I can imagine some human bed partners that are more disruptive than smaller pets.” How true.
Other benefits of sleeping with your pets
So by now you know that there are setbacks of sleeping with your pets, but it can also have perks. If you’re new to having pets and you’re not sure about sharing beds with them, you should look at the previous points. That said, there are additional benefits that you should know.
First of all, you’ll get extra warmth and comfort. This is good for people who prefer warmth to cold and want to have something to snuggle with. I personally love it when I cuddle with my cat because she’s so soft and warm, and sometimes I could tuck my feet under her fluffy belly and it’s so nice.
Both dogs and cats have higher body temperature than humans, about two to six degrees higher so they’re great bed warmers. Generally, dogs like to be near humans so you’ll definitely get extra warmth when they curl up to you at night. Some cats are indifferent to the idea of curling up to you, but when they snuggle, they provide the same warmth but in smaller portion.
Another benefit you’ll get is a stronger bond with your pets. When you let them sleep on your bed, your pets will know that their humans love them. It also shows that they trust you and are comfortable with you. This way, it’s not just you who feel cozy, but your fur babies or friends do too!