There is a host of benefits, and risks, to consider the next time you decide to cuddle with your pet in the bed, according to experts. A study that analysed data gathered in 2017 from the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Phoenix found over half of pet owners allowed their pet to sleep in the bedroom.
The majority found their pet “unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep.” About 20% felt the presence of their furry friends made their sleep worse. Another study published the same year put sleep trackers on dogs and their humans and found it proved beneficial for both.
However, sleep quality declined when people moved their dog from the floor to the bed.
Dr. Dana Varble, the chief veterinary officer for the North American Veterinary Community, told CNN it’s good for animals to sleep with their people, as they tend to have a “higher trust level and a tighter bond with the humans that are in their lives.”
Elaborating on the benefits of sharing a bed with pets, she explained, “Dogs and cats who are more closely bonded with their humans get additional health benefits, including increases in beneficial neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones.”
Some studies also suggest that children may benefit from sleeping with a pet. A 2021 study found the sleep of about a third of adolescents ages 13 to 17 was unaffected if they slept with a pet.
Some experts, however, believe that people might not get quality sleep as animals may disrupt it.
“Animals may move, bark and disrupt sleep. All of that activity will lead to sleep fragmentation,” director of sleep research and a professor in the department of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky said.
People who suffer from asthma, allergies or other respiratory ailments such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, should also exercise caution as they might be exposed to allergens.