It seems that all of us are looking for ways to get better sleep. Part of the problem is that many of the things that help some of us doze off only keep others awake. Television is a perfect example, as are music and night-lights, but of all the things that affect people’s rest differently, the matter of sleeping with pets is perhaps the most frequently discussed. Here’s a look at some of the many issues that surround this practice.
Americans Love Dogs…
Indeed we do, and the following statistics reveal just how much we adore them.
1. There are approximately 80 million pet dogs in the United States.
2. 40% of American households have at least one dog; 28% have two; 12% have three or more.
3. 21% of pet dogs were adopted from animal shelters.
4. On average, dog owners spend $250 a year on veterinary care.
And Cats Too…
Our love for our four-legged friends isn’t limited to canine creatures. For example:
1. There are over 86 million pet cats in the U.S.
2. One out of three households have at least one cat.
3. Of the households that have pet cats, more than half include two or more.
4. 21% of pet cats were adopted from animal shelters.
5. 82% of feline pets are spayed or neutered.
In return for our care, our pets give us love, affection, amusement, companionship, and, oftentimes, even protection. So, it only makes sense that we want them around us as much as possible, even when we’re sleeping. According to statistics, more than 50% of pet dogs and 62% of household cats sleep with their owners.
Also, at least when it comes to canines, it appears that size does matter. For while 62% of small dogs share their owner’s bed, only 41% of medium-sized dogs and around 30% of large ones enjoy the same privilege.
The question is, “What does any of this have to do with ways of getting better sleep?” The answer is “plenty”. Depending on a number of factors, having pets in bed with us helps, hurts, or has no effect on the quality of our rest. Those who report that sleeping alongside their animal friends is a positive experience often mention the following benefits:
1. The pet helps to relax them. This can be due to the animal’s mere presence, or it can be caused by the sound of its breathing, its purring (in the case of cats), its body warmth, or the calming effect of petting the creature as the owner dozes off.
2. Having the pet nearby reassures owners that it isn’t running about the house getting into mischief. As one cat owner put it, “as long as he’s lying next to me, I don’t have to worry about him getting up on counters and knocking stuff over.”
3. The pet insists on sleeping with them, and attempts to keep it away only cause it to whine, meow, or scratch at the door, all of which keeps the owners awake when they could be sleeping.
Problems Caused by Sleeping With Pets
While having an animal resting next to them helps many to enjoy blissful rest, for others, it only adds to their troubles. Here are some of the problems that occur when owners sleep with their pets:
1. The animal aggravates asthma or allergies, causing uncomfortable issues ranging from sneezing to breathing difficulties.
2. The pet prevents the owners from dozing off, by batting at them, insisting on attention, or disturbing them in other ways. Sometimes, cats insist on sleeping on top of, not next to, humans. Dogs occasionally snore or even take away pillow or cover space.
3. Sleepers are awakened by the animal’s nocturnal activities, sometimes multiple times during the evening. Cats may compete for prime spots on the mattress, as may dogs. Or they may engage in play, hop off and on the bed throughout the night, or do other things that rouse their owners from their rest.
The Bottom Line
As with so many other things in life, the answer to the question, “should you let your pets sleep with you?’’ is “it depends.” For some animal lovers, being apart from their furry friends would be disturbing or even traumatic for both pet and owner. For others, getting four-legged creatures out of their lives, at least during bedtime, would go a long way towards helping them get the rest they need. Whichever is the case with you, here are some tips you might find helpful:
1. If you want your pets to sleep with you but they aggravate your allergies, then consider getting an air cleaner with a HEPA filter approved for homes with animals. This can often eliminate, or at least reduce, the associated issues.
2. If you want your pets nearby, but not on the mattress with you, then you might want to get them pet beds of their own. For many animal owners, this is the perfect solution. Such beds are widely available in retail stores as well as the Internet. Quality and price vary widely, so shop around and check reviews to get the best deal. Even bite-resistant ones are available, for those with dogs who think that everything around them is a chew toy.
3. If you’re determined to keep your pet from sleeping with you, then most experts recommend not allowing them access to the bedroom, even during waking hours. They will come to understand that the room is outside of their territory. On the other hand, if you let them stay there until bedtime then chase them out, they will feel that you are taking away space that rightfully belongs to them. This can cause them emotional harm or even lead to behavior problems such as scratching, biting, and crying.
4. If the animal insists on getting in bed with you when you don’t want them there, then you might need to use behavior modification techniques to break them of the habit. One gentle but firm way to do so is to keep a spray bottle filled with water on your nightstand, and then squirt them with it when they hop up, or you might use positive reinforcement instead. One dog owner trained her three canine companions by encouraging them to get in their pet beds, then rewarding them with treats or praise when they did so. They came to associate getting off the mattress with receiving good things, and this solved the issue for all members of the household.
Balancing your pet’s desires with your need for restful, quality slumber can sometimes be challenging. None of us want to experience the symptoms of sleep deprivation, but it can be achieved with a little planning and effort, and by being kind while reminding your four-legged companions who’s in charge. Is the trouble involved worth it? For most animal lovers, the answer is a firm “yes!”
An Adjustable Bed Mattress Might Be the Perfect Solution
Pets aren’t the only things that can keep us awake at night. People with circulatory ailments, back pain, acid reflux, or a host of other conditions often find that they just can’t get the sleep they need on a conventional flat surface. For these people, we offer our Reverie Deluxe adjustable bed mattress frame. It works with many of our mattresses (springless ones only), and it may be just the solution you’re looking for. Check it out while you’re browsing our online selection of great products, or come see us in one of our retail stores in Oregon or Washington State. Our mission is to help you get the best sleep of your life.