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Sleeping With Your Furry Friend

Luke.Ma [Flickr]

Settling in for a good night's sleep with your four-footed buddy can actually be good for you.  Many owners find comfort, warmth, and relief from stress or anxiety having that cozy feeling of a warm fuzzy body snuggled up next to them.   


Before furnaces and electronic heating systems, winter nights could get pretty cold in the house, so you might let your dog sleep in the bed with you to keep you warm. On colder nights, you may need two dogs; but if it’s bitterly cold, that’s athree-dog night.

Somehave suggested that allowing our pets to share our beds may not be good for us. It could aggravate allergies, or keep you from getting enough sleep if your pet is active during the night.

An American Kennel Club survey shows that about half of pet owners let their pets share their bed. 20% train their furry friends to sleep in a crate; others have a pet bed for their four-footed buddies, and the rest pretty much let their pets sleep wherever they choose. A small number, about 4%, let their animals sleep outdoors.

But science shows there are real benefits to sleeping with your pet. The Mayo Clinic evaluated the sleep of humans with dogs in the bedroom. For adults without any sleep disorders, snuggling with a pet had no negative consequences. Just the opposite – both animal and human can benefit.

It has been known for a long time that petting a furry friend helps to lower your blood pressure. When you’re ready to sleep, massaging your buddy for a few minutes reduces tensions, eases stress, calms you and allows you to drift off to dreamland. And I can testify to the relaxing effect of having a purring cat beside you.

Now, back to that three-dog-night – maybe your house isn’t that cold, but allowing your furry companion to curl up next to you or stretch out beside you can help to keep you warm. It’s nice to have a little bit of natural warmth on a chilly night. You might even be able to lower the thermostat a bit and save a few pennies on your utility bill.

There is one more reason to sleep with your pet – sharing that time and space together may deepen the bond between you. So don’t feel guilty about admitting you get a great night’s sleep – with your best friend – when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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