A recent sleep survey1 from Time4Sleep revealed that only 15% of people encourage bed sharing with their pet. 

It’s clear that a few cat cuddles and dog dozes can provide a source of comfort for many owners, however, respondents also agreed that bed sharing with a pet had a negative impact on their sleep over a positive one, with 39% of owners not allowing their pet to sleep with them at all. 

With this in mind, Resident Sleep Expert at Time4Sleep and NHS GP, Dr. Hana Patel, shares her advice when it comes to sharing a bed with your pet and her sleep hygiene non-negotiables…

Sleep With Your Pet

Sharing a bed with your pet: The benefits 

Dr. Patel says: “Sleeping with your pet can offer numerous benefits. For many, the companionship of a furry friend can provide a sense of security and comfort, reducing feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Pets, particularly dogs, may also offer warmth and relaxation, contributing to better sleep quality. 

“Research suggests that having a pet in the bedroom can even lead to a more restful night’s sleep for some individuals, as the presence of a beloved animal can induce a feeling of calmness and contentment.”

Sharing a bed with your pet: The drawbacks

Dr. Patel says: “It is very likely that pets may disrupt sleep patterns with their movements, snoring, or demands for attention during the night, leading to fragmented sleep and daytime fatigue. Some individuals may be allergic to pet dander, fur, or saliva, which can exacerbate respiratory issues or skin conditions. If you’re someone who struggles with achieving good quality sleep, sleeping with your pet could make it difficult to get the sufficient rest you need.

“Allowing pets to sleep in bed may blur boundaries and lead to behavioural problems such as aggression or separation anxiety, as the pet becomes overly dependent on constant proximity to their owner. There are also concerns about hygiene, as pets may bring dirt, parasites, or even pathogens into the bed, posing health risks to both pet and owner.”

If you enjoy sleeping with your pet, there are a number of things you should be doing to ensure your sleep is disrupted as little as possible. Dr. Hana Patel shares her top tips: 

  1. Make sure your sleep space is big enough

Dr.Patel says: “Ensure your mattress is spacious enough to accommodate both you and your pet comfortably. This prevents disturbances caused by cramped sleeping arrangements and allows everyone to move freely without disrupting each other’s sleep.”

  1. Wash sheets and bedding regularly

Dr. Patel says: “Maintain good hygiene by washing your sheets, pillowcases, and pet bedding regularly. This reduces the risk of spreading germs and allergens that can affect both you and your pet. Additionally, cleaning your pet’s paws and fur before bedtime helps minimise the transfer of outdoor contaminants into the bedroom.”

  1. Stay up to date on vet visits

Dr. Patel explains: “Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations are essential for keeping your pet healthy and disease-free. Follow your vet’s recommendations for preventive care, including flea and tick treatments, to protect both you and your pet from potential health risks.”

  1. Do not let a pet lick or kiss your face

Dr. Patel says: “Avoid direct contact between your pet’s saliva and your face, especially if you have open wounds or are prone to infections. While affectionate gestures from your pet are heart-warming, minimising face-to-pet contact reduces the risk of transmitting illnesses or bacteria.”

  1. Walk your pet before bed

Dr. Patel says: “Take your pet for a walk or engage in playtime before bedtime to promote relaxation and tire them out. This helps prevent excess energy and reduces the likelihood of your pet causing sleep disruptions during the night. Additionally, encourage your pet to relieve themselves before settling down for sleep to minimise the need for bathroom breaks during the night.

“However, try not to do any vigorous exercise within an hour of bedtime as this raises your heart rate, body temperature and adrenaline, making it difficult to drift off.”

Sleep With Your Pet
  1. Keep a consistent bedtime routine

Dr. Patel says: “Establishing a consistent sleep schedule benefits both you and your pet by regulating circadian rhythms and promoting restful sleep. Stick to regular bedtime routines, such as dimming lights, winding down with quiet activities, and creating a calm sleep environment. Consistency helps synchronise your sleep-wake cycles with your pet’s, reducing the likelihood of disturbances and promoting overall sleep quality.”

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