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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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410 comments

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6:30PM PDT on Mar 27, 2015

Is Jessica Ramos afraid or disturbed by nature? Guess statistics can be twisted around to serve any weird theory....and I have serious doubts ppl's sleep is disturbed by pets. If anything, the humans are probably their disturbing pets' solid sleep. Puh-leeze.

7:02PM PDT on Mar 16, 2015

Will I , or won't I, No no no, me ain't game,yet, maybe another day.

6:50PM PDT on Mar 16, 2015

All my cats have always slept on the bed with me, hasn't harmed me, all contented

6:47PM PDT on Mar 16, 2015

Saff has one side. I have the other and we are all very happy, winter time he snuggles into my back, mobile electric blanket.
Happy Irish Day Everyone

1:54PM PDT on Mar 14, 2015

Ha! No way I'd ever stop sleeping with my cats.

8:24PM PDT on Mar 13, 2015

I don't give a rat's bottom. I will let my cats share my bed when they please!

9:14PM PDT on Mar 12, 2015

As if one has a choice with cats. They do what they please, but I like them in bed, especially in cold weather. Not so much in summer, but they tend to go where they can stretch out when it is really warm.

7:00AM PDT on Mar 12, 2015

im with the 93%-havent been able to seep without tablets since HH the SamCat left me

2:18AM PDT on Mar 12, 2015

So basically this study claims that pets disturb your sleep... in the exact same way a human companion does!
As a scientist, I often wonder how the hell do some of my colleagues get funds for their "studies" and how they have the guts to publish certain results as informative (because it´s been a looooong time since and article had to be truly groundbreaking in order to have impact). This I fear is one of the results of writing scientific articles that are targeted to large audiences.

None of the detriments listed here is exclusive of animals, you can get them as well from your human companion (even allergies, depending on what he/she wears to sleep). On the beneficial side, animals have proved effects on lowering stress (and cats purr in healing psychological and physically), they usually have more empathy to your moods than humans, they occupy less space, and will probably be removed from the bed or room with less fuss than if you through out your husband/wife, should the situation get to that extreme. Humans don´t have any of these benefits.

11:42AM PDT on Mar 8, 2015

Wow this article is really making a mountain out of a molehill here.

It's not the end of the world to get woken up a few times in the night or forced to sleep in a slightly less then optimal position for a few hours. If you try to micro manage every tiny detail of your life that might have the slightest fraction of an affect on your health you will drive yourself (and everyone around you) crazy!

Furthermore, sleeping next to your spouse can also force you to change positions, get overheated or woken up a few times and yet no one would ever suggest that a happily married couple should sleep apart.

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