13 Reasons to Sleep with Your Dog
It’s science (and adorable).
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
The question of whether or not to sleep with your dog can be kind of a divisive issue. Some are staunchly against it (allergy attacks, decreased sleep). But others are enthusiastically pro-bed sharing, arguing the snuggles outweigh the snores. Turns out they might be onto something because there are several researched-based reasons why it can be a healthy and positive experience for both you and your dog. For example, sleeping with your pup has many mental benefits such as an increased feeling of safety and comfort. In a study, people suffering from PTSD found that sleeping with their pet even helped diminish nightmares.
There are physical benefits, too. Sleeping with your dog releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin in the brain, which promotes theta brainwaves that are associated with REM sleep. This means it’s likely that you’re sleeping deeper when you sleep with your dog. The chemical also mitigates anxiety and stress, which can help you sleep better.
Of course, sharing your bed with your dog is not for everyone (read: light sleepers). If you really value your space or are easily woken, you might want to let them crash nearby in their own bed. However, if you’re on the fence, consider these benefits and drawbacks of bunking up with your pup.
Health Benefits of Sleeping With Your Dog
1. It reduces depression.
Contact with dogs increases the flow of oxytocin, the love chemical. Research has shown that spending even just minutes each day petting a dog increases the “feel-good” hormone—serotonin a natural depression-fighting chemical.
2. It promotes theta brainwaves.
The release of oxytocin promotes theta brainwaves, which occur during REM sleep.
3. It increases your sense of security.
Having a pet in the bed improved sleep quality for women in one study. Having a dog may provide pet parents with a sense of purpose and security which can be crucial to fighting mental health issues like depression.
4. It eases insomnia.
Sleeping with a dog mitigates anxiety, allowing you to relax and fall asleep.
5. It reduces bad dreams.
Research has shown that support animals diminish nightmares in PTSD patients.
6. It decreases loneliness.
In a study, 41% of pet owners said sleeping with their pet provides companionship. Dogs make us feel better about ourselves. Pet parents are found to exhibit better self-esteem, less fearfulness and greater social support that may help ease and prevent anxiety.
7. It improves sleep quality.
Sleeping with your dog results in a higher sleep efficiency score.
8. It reduces stress.
In a survey, 74% of pet owners reported improvement in their mental health from pet contact. What’s more, even the most highly stressed dog parents see their doctors 21% less than non-dog parents.
9. It lowers your blood pressure.
Human-dog interaction (like petting and touching) leads to lower pressure readings.
10. It strengthens your bond.
Sleeping together helps your dog trust you and may even make training easier.
11. It keeps your heart healthy.
The American Heart Association found a link between pet interaction and decreased hypertension. In one study, pet parents had a significantly smaller increase in heart rate and a faster recovery in response to stressful situations. It was even faster when the dog was physically in the room with them.
12. It reduces allergies later in life.
One study found infants who slept with their pets were less likely to develop allergies.
13. It improves your health overall.
A major study of nearly 6,000 participants found that pet parents have lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-dog parents.
When Sleeping with Your Pup Doesn’t Make Sense
Sleeping with your dog isn’t right for everyone. Circumstances when you might want to avoid it include:
If your dog isn’t house-trained.
If you have severe allergies.
If you are crate-training a new dog.
If you (or your dog) have health issues that would be exacerbated by sleeping together.
If you are a light sleeper.
Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.