Our pets are more than furry roommates – they’re members of our family. We buy them the tastiest treats, dress them up for Halloween, and nearly half of us allow them to sleep in bed with us.
- 62% of small dogs sleep in their owner’s bed
- 41% of medium-sized dogs sleep in their owner’s bed
- 32% of large dogs sleep in their owner’s beds
- 62% of cats sleep with their adult owners
- 13% of cats sleep with children in their beds
The figures vary, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 14 and 62% of the 165 million dogs and cats in the US sleep in bed with humans.
Before you invite any canines or felines into your bed, make sure it won’t bother any allergies and that you have the right sleeping arrangements to experience the benefits of snoozing with a pet. You’ll want to be sure there is enough space to stay undisturbed all night.
So what happens when you let your fur baby cuddle up to you in bed?
You Cheer Up
After a long day of dealing with bosses breathing down your neck, you need someone to lean on. Pets provide unconditional and fluffy support to their owners. More than half of pet owners surveyed said sleeping with a dog comforted them.
It’s more than just the comforts of a cuddle – there’s science to back up this mood change. Researchers from Azabu University in Japan found that interacting with animals can increase your oxytocin levels. This is the feel good or “love” hormone that creates a calming effect in the body.
You Experience Less Pain
Oxytocin can do more than calm you down before bedtime. It also has a hand in lessening physical symptoms of pain and discomfort. Essentially, focusing on your fur baby can help alleviate pain.
It’s long been known that simply having a pet helps owners reduce stress, but research out of the University of Missouri-Columbia shows that getting close to them also causes a drop in blood pressure and cortisol – the hormone associated with stress.
At night these cortisol levels should decrease naturally, but if you live with chronic stress, your cortisol levels stay elevated. This makes it really hard to fall asleep. A quick pet snuggle may just help.
You Feel Safer
When we’re afraid, our body naturally stays in a state of flight-or-fight stress. The sympathetic nervous system releases neurotransmitters like adrenaline, dopamine, and noradrenaline. None of those are good for catching quality ZZZ’s.
Anyone who’s ever lived alone can tell you that having a pet makes you feel safer. Patients at the Mayo Sleep Clinic agreed. They reported that having an animal snoozing next to them increases their sense of security – helping them fall asleep more easily.
You Sleep Better
Now that you’re furry friend has helped drop your stress and increase your security, you’re ready to start settling in for the night. Luckily, having a pet under the covers also boosts chemicals like serotonin, helping you fall asleep.
As long as you don’t mind the occasional leg kick when your dog dreams of squirrels, or a cat batting a lampshade at midnight, you and your pet can both find great benefits to sleeping in the same space.
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