Should Your Dog Sleep On The Bed With You?
Ever wondered if you should sleep with your dog? It might be cute to cuddle with your pooch at night but is it healthy? Is it good for your sleep? Is it good for your dog? I’ve done some deep research into the topic to find out! Read on to discover what I’ve learnt.
Disclaimer: This article is not written by a veterinarian or medical professional. Our resources are cited at the end of the article. However, do consult your doctor or vet if you want a medical opinion!
Sleeping With Dogs Is Ancient History
Let’s take it back to the good days. The caveman days. I remember them fondly.
After studying the cave drawings and fossils of cave dwellers, there’s strong evidence to suggest that humans used to sleep side by side with their pups as a source of warmth, protection and comfort.
“Anthropologists have noted that sleeping with dogs is an ancient practice. After dogs were domesticated, in many cultures they shared sleeping areas with early humans, warning them of the approach of predators or hostile humans, and even curling up next to their owners and providing warmth.” - Stanley Coren PhD., Psychology Today (1)
So if you find sleeping with your dog gives you a sense of snugness and security, you’re not alone! Humans have been sleeping beside their dogs for millennia.
So we have our answer, right? Humans have been sleeping with their dogs forever so we should be totally fine to do so too.
Well… there’s more to it than that. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages before we take a side.
The Pros & Cons of Sleeping With Your Dog
Before we settle this argument for ourselves, let’s take a balanced look at the arguments for and against sleeping with your dog. My aim here is to use credible sources to build a case for either side.
Spoiler, however – Even though there are more pros on the list than cons, I think the cons pack a punch for me.
Related: Should Dogs Sleep Inside or Outside?
So more so than looking at the length of the pros and the length of the cons, think about which points bear the most weight for you. This will make more sense as we go along.
The Pros: Surprising benefits of sleeping with your dog
Let’s start with the good things!
1. You feel safer
Remember those cavemen using dogs for protection from predators? That’s just one of the theories why we feel safer when our dogs are in our beds or bedrooms in the modern day.
A study of 962 adult women showed that many of the women found co-sleeping with their dogs was just as comforting and protective as sleeping with a human partner. (2)
For that reason, you might find it helpful to sleep in the same room or same bed as your dog if you get anxious at night. Examples of anxious behaviour at night could be frequent nightmares, sleep paralysis or insomnia. Try sleeping with your dog close to you and see if it improves your relaxation at night.
2. Your anxiety and stress levels could decrease
Speaking of anxiety, there’s a scientific reason why cuddling your dog at night decreases stress levels.
It’s that calming little hormone we affectionately call the “hug hormone” – oxytocin. Studies show that the prominent psychological and psychophysiological effects of dog-human interactions revolve around this love-bug hormone. (3)
You release oxytocin as a bonding chemical whenever you feel close to a loved one, pet or child. This has a calming effect and lowers your anxiety.
It’s one of the reasons that therapy dogs and emotional support dogs are so effective. The support from a dog is doubly impactful for those with diagnosed anxiety disorders, depression or personality disorders. (4)
3. Your risk of disease is low
If you’re wondering if sleeping next to your dog is safe, good news! There’s no evidence to suggest that you’re at a huge risk of disease if you co-sleep with a canine.
If your dog is regularly checked by a vet and goes through deworming cycles and parasitic prevention, it’s unlikely that you«ll catch any diseases from your pup. That is if you are in good health and don’t have any underlying health issues that could affect your immune defences.
“…good health…is basically defined as those who are not immunosuppressed. Cancer patients, transplant recipients, and H.I.V.-positive people are among those who should not sleep with pets.” (5)
I suggest speaking to your doctor if you have any concerns about co-sleeping with your pup.
4. Your loneliness may be soothed
A study conducted by the American Centre of Sleep Medicine measured the self-reported thoughts of 150 people who owned a pet. 56% of pet owners let their dogs sleep in their beds or bedroom.
The single people in the group found their pets less disruptive when sleeping in the bed or bedroom. They also reported feeling comforted, secure and relaxed when their pet was in the room. (6)
Simply the feeling of having another body in the space was soothing to loneliness. After all, your pup is probably one of your prized companions in life whether you are single or not.
5. Your allergies may lessen over time
A study of infants sleeping with a dog in the room showed that they developed fewer allergies later in life. (7)
Now I couldn’t find much evidence for this helping us ease allergies later in life. However, if you have young children, this could be something worth exploring!
Note: It’s important that if you allow your dog to sleep in the same room as your children that you have built a strong trusting relationship between your kids and your dog. Teach your kids good boundaries so that they don’t end up disturbing your dog as they are sleeping.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to infants but from the time your kid is a toddler, you can start to teach them the best ways to pet, cuddle and speak to your dog to nurture that relationship. (8)
6. You might sleep better
One of the easiest ways to improve your mental health is to improve your sleep. So wouldn’t it be amazing if improving your sleep could be as simple as bringing your pooch into the mix?
For some, it is that simple. One of the key reasons owners avoid bringing their dogs into their beds is because they expect they’ll have poorer quality of sleep. It highly depends on the person but studies show that many dogs adapt to sleeping beside each other. (9)
Even if the dog owner feels uncomfortable in the beginning, they eventually become in sync and no longer notice their dog’s movements at night. Some in the study didn’t notice their dog’s movements at all from the beginning of the study.
So it goes to show that sleep is highly personal and your dog might be a boost to your sleep quality and not a hindrance.
Speaking of hindrances, let’s move on to the cons.
The Cons: Why your dog shouldn’t sleep with you
Of course, in any balanced argument, we must look at the good and the bad. Here are the disadvantages of sleeping with your dog, whether that’s having them in the room or your bed.
1. Your allergic reactions may increase
So yes, for infants, the allergy response decreased over time. But if you’re a child or adult with strong allergies to pollen or dust, co-sleeping with a dog probably won’t help you.
This is because dust, pollen and other allergens can hitch a ride on your dog’s fur and disturb your airways as your slumber.
As someone myself who has a strong allergy to pollen and dust, it’s an uncomfortable time if I have the dogs sleeping in the same room with me!
You need to be extra careful if you or your children suffer from asthma as symptoms can be way worse here too.
2. Your risk of disease is low…but not zero!
Though sleeping with your dog is safer than most may think, it’s still not entirely safe.
Your dog can have remnants of mud, faeces, food and other nasties on their fur or paws. Not what you want to introduce to your fresh clean sheets.
That said, another human being can carry all those things into your bed too, in theory, so who am I to judge?
3. Your dog might accidentally injure you
Have you ever seen your dog have a dream or nightmare?
Their limbs flail as they run after the offending predator or prey that haunts them in their sleep. They may even bark or growl in their sleep. It’s quite the performance.
Related: Why Won't My Dog Sleep In Their Bed?
Now imagine sleeping next to your pup as they have this mysterious dream. Yes, I have been kicked by a sleeping dog before as I was chilling on the sofa. I can only imagine how much it would’ve hurt (or at least annoyed me) if that kick was to my stomach as I slept.
Related: How To Help Your Dog Sleep.
Of course, this isn’t a factor to many. I’ve also been kicked by my partner sleeping next to me in bed. So again, it’s all part of the risk of sleeping with any creature if you ask me!
4. You might not sleep that well
Here’s the crux of it. If the snoring, dribbling, kicking, farting or general moving of another being, human or otherwise, don’t bother you, you’ll probably be fine as you sleep.
But if you’re a light sleeper and therefore sensitive to sound, movement and scent changes around you, I’d think twice about co-sleeping with your canine friend.
Not to mention that some dogs are also not keen on being your nighttime teddy bear either. Some dogs are completely fine with it but others get too warm or suffocated as they are resting.
Related: Why Won't My Dog Sleep at Night?
Before I give a verdict, I’ll talk you through my experience sleeping beside my dog for the first time and you can see if this ancient practice is right for you!
Should You Sleep With Your Dog? My Experience
So because I’ll try anything once I wanted to give this a go. I have never really had my dogs in my own bed for a few reasons. First, my dogs were large. Second, at one point, there were three of them so I couldn’t show favouritism. Finally, I like to sleep alone.
But for you, dear reader, I gave it a go.
Related How To Choose The Right Size Dog Bed?
Though it was quite sweet in the beginning to cuddle with my dog, it wasn’t a comfortable night.
My dog kicks, flips and farts in his sleep, which was offensive to all of my senses. As a light sleeper, this meant that I didn’t manage to get into full REM sleep.
Eventually, my dog decided to jump off of the bed anyway and return to his own bed (he’s currently enjoying the Calming Dog Bed by Fur King). So I guess I wasn’t the best sleeping partner either for reasons we will never know. I presume it’s something to do with my tendency to steal covers.
Either way, sleeping in the same bed wasn’t for us. Both of us prize our sleep quality far too much and are feather-light sleepers.
But what do you think? Does co-sleeping with your pooch work for you?
Let us know in the comments below or find us on our YouTube channel!
The answer to this question is usually quite simple. Your dog wants to sleep in your bed because they like you! It’s also quite warm sleeping next to another being. If your dog is being unusually clingy, there could be a number of reasons. To name a few: illness, bereavement, depression, anxiety, ageing and boredom. (10) Once you’ve ruled out any physical ailments, it’s a great idea to learn how to mentally stimulate your dog to boost their mental health.
Yes and no. While there is little evidence to suggest that sleeping beside your dog is unsafe, your pup can introduce bacteria, parasites and allergens into your bed via their fur and on their paws. So it’s cleaner than you may think but still carries an unsanitary risk. That said, many vets report that it’s generally safe to sleep in a bed with your dog if it’s comfortable for you to do so.
- Coren, S. September 23, 2014. “Is That a Dog in Your Bed?”. Psychology Today. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/canine-corner/201409/is-dog-in-your-bed
- Christy L. Hoffman, Kaylee Stutz & Terrie Vasilopoulos (2018) An Examination of Adult Women’s Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing, Anthrozoös, 31:6, 711-725. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08927936.2018.1529354
- Beetz, A., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Julius, H., & Kotrschal, K. (2012). Psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interactions: the possible role of oxytocin. Frontiers in psychology, 3, 234. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00234
- Brooks, H. L., Rushton, K., Lovell, K., Bee, P., Walker, L., Grant, L., & Rogers, A. (2018). The power of support from companion animals for people living with mental health problems: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the evidence. BMC psychiatry, 18(1), 31. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1613-2
- Dunham, N. January 25, 2015. “Is It Safe to Sleep with Your Pet?”. PetMD. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/is-it-safe-to-sleep-with-pets
- Whiteman, H. December 16, 2015. “Sharing a bed with your pet could help you sleep”. Medical News Today. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/304177
- Gern, J. E., Reardon, C. L., Hoffjan, S., Nicolae, D., Li, Z., Roberg, K. A., Neaville, W. A., Carlson-Dakes, K., Adler, K., Hamilton, R., Anderson, E., Gilbertson-White, S., Tisler, C., Dasilva, D., Anklam, K., Mikus, L. D., Rosenthal, L. A., Ober, C., Gangnon, R., & Lemanske, R. F., Jr (2004). Effects of dog ownership and genotype on immune development and atopy in infancy. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 113(2), 307–314. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2003.11.017
- Gibeault, S. February 16, 2021. “How To Help Your Dog Love Children”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/helping-your-dog-love-children/
- Hoffman, C. L., Browne, M., & Smith, B. P. (2020). Human-Animal Co-Sleeping: An Actigraphy-Based Assessment of Dogs' Impacts on Women's Nighttime Movements. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 10(2), 278. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020278
- Pendergrass, J. Grzyb, K. May 15, 2019. “Why Is My Dog So Clingy?”. PetMD. Retrieved January 10, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/how-manage-clingy-dog-behavior-0