By: Stacey L. NashStacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.
For many people, dogs are considered a member of the family. Some even go so far as to share their bed with their furriest family member. If you’re considering bed sharing with your pet, there are a few things you’ll need to consider, including the very real possibility of contracting a disease.
Health and Safety Issues of Bed Sharing
Dogs can carry illnesses that can be contracted by humans. The list of diseases your dog can carry is somewhat frightening because it includes bubonic plague and various parasites. However, the chances of getting one from a pet who is up to date on vaccinations as well as properly treated for ticks and fleas are small. People with compromised immune systems and young children are more susceptible to diseases passed on by pets. If anyone in your family falls into one of those categories, your dog does not belong in their bedroom.
You’ll also be dealing with extra fur and dander on your bedding, furniture, and clothing, which brings up the issue of allergies. Allergies certainly don’t have to prevent you from having a pet, but a pet in the bedroom is a different matter. You’ll spend nearly a third of your life in the bedroom. Dander and fur can trigger allergies all night long, which can make it more difficult to manage them during the day too. For that reason, if you or your partner have allergies or asthma, your pet doesn’t belong in the bedroom. You may want to consider a HEPA filter in your bedroom to keep the air as clean as possible.
Despite the health and safety concerns, many people continue to share their bed with a pet. Their reasons for doing so are just as compelling.
Safety and Security of a Bed Fellow
Dogs offer extra safety and security when you’re at your most vulnerable. Animals have a keen awareness of their surroundings that humans don’t have. They’re often more alert to intruders, fires, and other disturbances and can give you an advanced warning. However, you’ll have to consider that your dog might wake you up to bark at a passing car in the middle of the night. He might also jump on and off the bed several throughout the night to check any sounds he hears. A mattress that absorbs motion and transfers it evenly can help reduce motion-related nighttime interruptions.
Even though your dog might wake you up once in a while, it might be worth it for the extra comfort he offers. Sleeping with your dog is like having your childhood comfort blanket along with a built-in heater. Many people who live alone or who have a spouse who frequently travels, enjoy having another body in bed for comfort reasons.
But, dogs offer more than physical comfort. They can actually improve your mental health, which in turn improves the quality of your sleep. Stress, anxiety, and depression commonly cause insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. The interaction between with your dog can trigger the release of oxytocin in both you and your dog. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps create bonds between people as well as reducing anxiety. That extra body in the bed might be what you need to rest an anxious mind before bed.
The decision to share your bed with your dog is a personal one that only you can decide. No matter your decision, be sure you and your dog get the rest you need.