They’re loyal. They’re lovable. And who can resist those cute wet noses and wagging tails? No wonder dogs have become known as man’s best friend. According to the ASPCA, approximately 44% of all U.S. households own a dog. That’s literally millions and millions of people who have a pooch as a part of their family.
And because these doggies are considered part of the family, it turns out that many owners go as far as sharing their bed with Fido every night.
If you’re one of these folks, you may want to get a better understanding of what cuddling with a canine companion does to your sleep and how you might be able to minimize the impact.
The pros and cons of sleeping with your dog.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic conducted a study to evaluate sleep habits of people who co-slept with their dogs. The study found that many people felt comfort and security in having their pets near them all night. In fact, some even slept better with their dogs in the bedroom.
However, the positive benefits of sleeping with your dogs ended when the test subjects actually invited them under the covers. Sleep efficiency results for these subjects went downhill when the dog was in the bed, as opposed to just in the room.
Let’s face it, most dogs snore. And some even act out their dreams, like running in their sleep. Plus, the American Kennel Club says that dogs are polyphasic sleepers, which means that they average three sleep/wake cycles every hour at night. That can mean a lot of noise and shifting around when they wake each time. With that in mind, sharing a bed with your four-legged friend likely leads to more sleep disruptions for you and, in turn, poor sleep quality.
If you’re going to let sleeping dogs lie, at least look at your sleep setup.
Even though co-sleeping with your dog isn’t the best idea, we know many loyal owners who already share their bed won’t kick their dog out for any reason. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, half of the 78 million dogs owned in the United States sleep in a person’s bed — either an adult’s or child’s. If you find yourself in this group of pet parents, here are some tips on what you can do to get a restful sleep with your dog by your side:
- Measure up your mattress. Make sure you have enough room for you, your human sleep mate and your dog(s) to stretch out. A bed can quickly become overcrowded and uncomfortable. If you just got a pup and you’re not sure how big it will grow up to be, it might be better to wait on bedsharing until you know. You don’t want to spend money on a mattress that turns out to be the wrong size, and you’ll have a tougher time trying to train your dog to stop sleeping in your bed once it has become accustomed to being there. Looking to buy a new mattress? Check out our easy guide to find the right match for you and your pooch.
- Banish dog toys from the bed. To get a better night’s rest, people should use their beds primarily for sleeping. So, just as you might not want to bring your electronics, televisions or other distractions to the bedroom with you, your dog shouldn’t either. Try training it from the beginning to recognize that your bed is for sleeping, not playing.
- Change your bedding more frequently. Most dogs shed and produce dander. Plus, they can pick up dust, pollen and other allergens in their fur throughout the day. All of these irritants can end up in your bed and aggravate your allergies. Unless you want to make dog baths a nightly ritual, plan on stripping off your sheets, cover and pillowcases, and launder as frequently as once or twice a week.
- Buy them their own bed. Some manufacturers that make mattresses for humans now offer mattresses specifically for dogs. Some of these companies even engineer, research and test their canine designs like they do for their human products. Dog mattresses can be found in different sizes for dogs of all breeds and weights. This way, you won’t have to feel guilty about banishing your pup from your comfy bed when you give it its very own place to sleep.
A parting thought about sleeping with your pup.
The Mayo Clinic sleep study found that dogs slept just the same whether they were on the bed or in another location in the bedroom. As far as your dog is concerned, the floor or a crate is a perfectly fine place for it to catch some zzz’s. Consider sleeping near, but not next to, your dog and you won’t be barking up the wrong tree for a good night’s sleep.
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