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Opportunities and Obstacles of Co-Sleeping With Pets

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Should you or shouldn’t you sleep with your pet? Let’s consider the research, the reality and your options.


Three out of every five Americans share their home with at least one pet, and many of those pet owners also share their bed. A 2015 Harris poll found that 71 percent of pet owners allow their furry friends to snuggle up in bed, while only 10 percent of pet owners never do. Roughly 80 percent of cat owners and 70 percent dog owners share their sleeping quarters with their pets, even if the animals don't share the big bed.


But does sharing sleeping space with Fido and Fifi impact their owners' sleep?


Advantages and Disadvantages

Sleep Number® smart sleepers with pets report more restful sleep, BUT their overall restfulness is lower compared to those who don’t have pets at home.* So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.


Co-sleeping with pets may have some notable benefits, including social support and increased feelings of personal security, according to research published in Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals. In a small study from the Mayo Clinic's Center for Sleep Medicine, 41 percent of participants said pets were unobtrusive or beneficial to their sleep. Research shows just being in the same room as your dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate when you're under stress, according to the Frontiers in Psychology journal.


But sharing the bed with pets can pose some risks and challenges, including the potential spread of bacterial, parasitic, and viral zoonoses, which is any disease or infection that can be transmitted from animals to humans, as the Centers for Disease Control notes.


Pets can also be disruptive, says the Providence Medical Group. From snoring and kicking to taking up too much of the bed, pets can break their human's sleep cycle. People who co-sleep with their furry friends take longer to fall asleep and are more likely to wake up tired compared to people who don't sleep with pets, according to the Anthrozoos journal study.


Tips for Co-Sleeping With Your Pet

Before you banish Fido from the bedroom, check out these tips to ensure both you and your pet sleep more comfortably.


Schedule Frequent Vet Visits

Regular checkups can help identify and treat diseases and keep fleas and ticks at bay, according to VCA Animal Hospitals, a chain of 600 veterinary hospitals. Veterinarians advise pet owners to set up a visit at least once a year, if not twice. During your pet's first year, monthly or bi-monthly visits may be necessary to keep up with vaccinations.


Bathe Pets Regularly

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends bathing dogs at least once every three months. If your dog spends more time outdoors, it's a good idea to bathe them more frequently. Cats are fastidious self-groomers, but may require a bath if they get unusually dirty, the ASPCA says. Regularly brushing cats and dogs can help remove dirt and identify fleas before the annoying pests start co-sleeping with you too.


Wash Bedding Often

The bedding experts at Sleep Number recommend washing your sheets once a week to get rid of allergens like dust mites, dead skin cells and bodily fluids like sweat.  They share more details about how often you should wash your bedding in this Katie Couric story. If your pet is especially dirty, wash your sheets more frequently in hot water to remove dust, dirt and germs.


Consider New Rules

If your pet hogs the bed, it may be time to move them to the floor. Create a comfortable, inviting sleep space on the floor or in a different room. Don't let their whining deter your efforts. Allowing your pet back in bed just once can confuse a pet and prolong the process.


If the benefits of co-sleeping outweigh the drawbacks, go ahead and maintain your routine. But if your pet's snoring or bed hogging hinder your sleep on a regular basis, it may be best to change the arrangement.


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal wellbeing and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.

*Based on SleepIQ® data from 1/2/20 to 1/1/21 and self-reported responses of sleepers using SleepIQ® technology from 5/12/19 – 1/1/21

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