We have an Auntie Sandy in our lives and she is a complete rock star to my kids. Telling my kids that they are having an overnight at Auntie Sandy’s is like telling my husband his kids are having an overnight anywhere! It’s pretty freaking amazing.
So when my eldest told me she doesn’t want to sleep in Auntie Sandy’s room I thought it was so odd. She worships this woman. When I asked her why she sheepishly told me that Charlie, my Aunt’s adorable Yorkie, keeps her up all night moving about and scratching. Her words exactly – “Mom, the next day I’m just exhausted.”
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This got me thinking. I know many people struggle with sleep when bed sharing with their toddlers, or are kept awake at night from their partner snoring. I also know a lot of people who sleep with pets, so it would make sense that those who bed share with their pets also struggle with sleep, right?
According to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, nearly half of those who participated slept with their dogs and 62% slept with their cats, 13% of those cats slept with children. A 2012 Harris poll revealed that more women slept with their pets than men, while cats were the more common bed fellows compared to dogs.
IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO SLEEP WITH YOUR PETS?
First I’m going to ignore the scary “Bed Sharing With Pet” headlines that include the potential to contract the bubonic plague, cat scratch fever (nope, not the song), or meningitis. You have a higher chance of becoming George Clooney’s third wife than contracting any of these illnesses.
THERE ARE REASONS THOUGH THAT CUDDLING UP WITH FIDO AT NIGHT MAY NOT BE A GOOD IDEA.
- If you’re an allergy or asthma sufferer, it’s probably not the best idea to share a bed or even have them in your bedroom throughout the night. For those who choose to sneeze and sniffle throughout the night and continue to sleep with your pets you may need to consider weekly allergy shots and start using a HEPA filter to help you get a better night sleep.
- When you are continually waking up feeling exhausted throughout the day, you have to ask yourself if you are able to get the best restorative sleep at night. Having to take your pet out in the middle of the night or the normal noises that come with a dog or cat can cause too many wakings throughout the night, which interrupts all the REM sleep your body needs. If sharing a bed with your pets is causing you insomnia, it may be time to make some changes.
- If your marriage is lacking intimacy due to your pets being in your bed, it may be time to have Rover sleep elsewhere. Your partner may be missing your cuddles and it could be time to get the romance back on track.
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:
- Am I tired when I wake in the morning? Am I falling asleep throughout the day? Do I have difficulty focusing at work or with my family and friends?
- Is my marriage suffering because of the lack of intimacy? Is it an ongoing battle between my partner and I?
- Am I concerned that my pet is making my allergies worse at night or that I could contract a serious illness from my pet?
BUT CAN SLEEPING WITH YOUR PET BE GOOD FOR YOU?
As I tell all my families who have a family bed: if what you are doing works for your family, and you are all able to get the healthy sleep you need to function and be a thriving family unit, who am I to tell you to stop? It’s the same with your pets. If you don’t have asthma and your sleep isn’t disrupted throughout the night, then sleeping with your pet is perfectly fine. Actually sleeping with your dog or cat has been proven for some to help with insomnia due to stress and anxiety, and works better than using any other form of sleeping aid. Better health can be promoted as studies have shown this arrangement can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and general feelings of loneliness.
I’M READY TO GET MY PET OUT OF MY BED. HOW DO I DO IT?
If you do sleep with your pet and feel that changes need to be made, it may take some time and lots of consistency. It’s tough to train a pet to sleep in a new environment. If you are consistent with removing them from your bed, it could take a few weeks before new habits are created. It also may be a good idea to call a professional trainer that can help develop a plan and coach you through it.
So if sleeping with your pet works for you, it’s okay! Just make sure you have good flea and tick control, and then cuddle up, and sleep on.
This post was originally published on YummyMummyClub.ca
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.