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Is Sharing Your Bed With Your Pet Bad? Yes, Says New Research

Is Sharing Your Bed With Your Pet Bad? Yes, Says New Research

Many pets happily make themselves at home on your bed, which many guardians are more than happy to accommodate. It can be a wonderful feeling to cuddle up with your pet on the bed, but now new research is saying that sharing your bed with your furry friend could be bad for your sleep and, by extension, bad for your health.

As reported in The Huffington Post, Dr. Sowjanya Duthuluru M.D. presented the new research at the 2014 SLEEP conference.

Shared Co-Sleeping Experiences

Dr. Sowjanya Duthuluru M.D. and his team surveyed 300 people to learn more about their sleep habits. Of the 300, 148 participants reported being pet guardians. More than half of the participants (54 percent to be exact) claimed to sleep in the bed with their pet.

There weren’t significant differences between the participants regarding gender, age and whether they were cat or dog guardians. Here are a few things that the people who slept on their bed with their pets had in common:

  • They slept with their pet on the bed for four or more nights per week.
  • Of the 148 participants, 63 percent claimed that their sleep was “poor quality.”
  • Thirty percent of participants reported being woken up at least once thanks to their furry companion.
  • Five percent of the pet guardian participants expressed having trouble falling back asleep, either always or most of the time after their pet disturbed their slumber.

How Pets Disturb Sleep

Our pets are pretty cute, but their sleeping habits arenít always cute.

  • They make funny noises. It’s not necessarily just a bark or meow. Remember, cats can make many vocalizations.
  • They have vivid and intense dreams. Maybe they are fighting their neighborhood nemesis or chasing squirrels at the park. Although we will never know for sure, many pet guardians have seen the muffled barks and running legs that indicate it.
  • Some pets are just light sleepers with intense senses. Any unusual noise or smell and they are up to investigate. Some have no problem jumping on you to survey the territory. (Of course, if it ends up saving your familyís life, then this sleep disturbance could be worth it.)
  • Sometimes they don’t even do anything, but allergies to their dander rear up in the middle of the night and disturb your slumber.
  • Pets are often natural alarm clocks. If they’re hungry or have to go potty, then they will do their best to let you know, whether you like it or not.
  • Sometimes you are just too warm, soft and comfortable to resist: pets are notorious for getting comfortable on the most uncomfortable parts of their people, e.g. the head, legs, and chest. It’s hard to drift to REM when you have a cat sleeping on your face.

Sleeping with Pets isnít All Bad

Any pet guardian who has slept in a bed with a pet probably has many positive stories of sharing their space with their beloved companions. Here are a few of the ways that pets can enrich our sleeping experience:

  • Pets can give us excellent companionship that overrides negative feelings and stress from the day.
  • Their increased body temperatures can keep us warm and toasty.
  • Pets can be healing on many different levels. For example, the Peruvian Inca Orchid dog (which is always a strong contender for the ugliest dog competitions, although I think itís pretty cute) is believed to have physical healing properties; it acts like a living hot water bottle.
  • As Pets’ Web MD reports, pets can also have a “rhythmic” heartbeat or breathing that does wonders for calming us down and putting us in a zen state.
  • Yes, their antics might be annoying, but they can also be funny and entertaining. A little humor is always a good thing.

If you decide that it is time to get your pet its own bed away from you, do some research and realize that it may not be easy to change the routine. While dogs might have an easier time adjusting, this isn’t necessarily the case for cats. According to Pets Web MD, the bed is a cat’s territory and it is an all or nothing situation. You may have to close the door if you want to keep kitty off your bed.

So, will you be kicking your furry friend off of your bed anytime soon? I don’t think that I will. Sure, sometimes it can be annoying, but my bed probably won’t feel the same without them. I will take the disturbances, the noises and the germs in exchange for those priceless snuggle memories.

Just for fun, hereís a cute sight to wake up to.

Hereís a not so cute one (okay, it’s still cute).

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Photo Credit: Romana Klee

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11:06PM PDT on Sep 20, 2014

Excuse me! In our household we are not pet hoarders. Our short - haired dog weighs less than 20 lbs & believes he is the size, length and strength of a lab! I don't think we could sleep without the dog unless the dog preferred this. We all enjoy each others' dreams. We change our pillowcases and sheets frequently. The dog eats high quality dog food so no stinkiness. (Incidentally, we don't approve of ppl who have their large past-appropriate-age children sleep with them regularly. That would mean that these parents are having their children serve inappropriate needs. However, a dog or cat is not a child or human. Read Desmond Morris, THE HUMAN ZOO.) Could be a good diagnostic tool regarding mental health to examine how you do or don't sleep w/yr pets. Our dog and we are not neurotic BECAUSE we have each other. In this household we are all each others' therapy companions, playmates, confidants, touchstones and even alarm clocks. We all could make any adjustment for a more comfortable situation for any of us. The only merit this article has is to have ppl check their hygiene...and maybe get a larger bed. One careless neighbor of ours with a daschund should have had a lower bed because the poor pet broke its back jumping off (expensive surgery & lengthy, painful recovery.)

12:29PM PDT on Sep 20, 2014


11:31AM PDT on Sep 20, 2014

93% of people here sleep with their pets according to the poll, so I guess the benefits must outweigh the disadvantages.

8:27AM PDT on Sep 20, 2014

I didn't read this article but knowing that ideas like this have NO merit, I don't think I would ever deprive my companion animal of sleeping where he or she wants. One of my dogs slept on my bed. The other slept under it. More power to them. And when it comes to "researchers" I read them with a grain or salt or if at all.

6:20AM PDT on Sep 20, 2014

No way I'm kicking my cat out of bed. It's not "my" bed, it's "our" bed. :)

4:47AM PDT on Sep 20, 2014

Think and do what's really good

4:14PM PDT on Sep 18, 2014

My thoughts when seeing the title: Bad for who? My pet or me?

After thoughts: Oh, just possibly me? No worries.

12:32PM PDT on Sep 16, 2014

I'd rather sleep with my cats and dogs than hubby.... he makes a lot more 'funny noises'!!

3:55PM PDT on Sep 15, 2014


4:45AM PDT on Sep 12, 2014

What I wanted to say is that our cat can be down right inconsiderate when she hogs our bed.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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