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Experts Debate Benefits of Sleeping With Pets

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SLEEP EXPERTS TEND to have strongly-held opinions about what you should do to get better sleep. When it comes to sleeping with pets, however, their recommendations are fairly mixed. Some studies show that keeping pets in your bed costs you sleep, while others demonstrate the benefits of sleeping with your cats or dogs.

Pets and Sleep Disturbances

If you find that your dog sleeping curled up around your feet is an annoyance, you are far from alone. The rate of sleep problems among people who allow their dogs and cats to sleep with them may be on the rise.

A 2013 survey from the Mayo Clinic noted that about 10 percent of respondents simply could not sleep, or did not sleep as well, with their pets in the bed. A similar study from 2002 showed that only 1 percent of people who replied had such problems. The most obvious conclusion is that if you are stuck sharing space with a furry bedhog, you will be better off kicking them out to a different room.

Comfort of a Companion

If you think that spending a night alone without the comfort of a purring cat or warm dog fur is ripe for a nightmare, you aren’t the only one who feels that way.

The same 2013 study could be presented in a different light. While 20 percent of people in the survey indicated that they were occasionally irritated while sleeping with pets, over twice as many, 41 percent, said that having their pets with them at night was either neutral or beneficial.

On balance, the data validates the experts’ differing perspectives. When your sleep quality is the only factor you consider, your preferences should dictate the best route.

Risk of Disease and Allergy

Sharing any space with an animal exposes you to some degree of risk. Animals may not have the same kinds of hygiene habits that you do. If you have ever had a cat or dog lick your face and wondered in horror where that tongue has been, you understand the concept.

Pets carry diseases in their fur and on their skin. Dogs and outdoor cats can bring in all manner of problems from the outdoors straight to your bed. Pet fecal matter is gross to think about, but it also carries salmonella and E. coli that can make you sick. You face this risk whether or not you sleep with your pet, but sharing a mattress increases proximity and likelihood of contact.

Maintaining Your Mattress

Mattresses are porous surfaces. As such, they are prone to attracting microbes, bacteria, dust mites and other things you would rather avoid.

If you suffer from allergies, the collection of pet saliva and dander in your mattress may aggravate them. Even without allergies, pets pose a risk to the longevity of your mattress. T

o minimize the chance that sleeping with your pets will damage your mattress, buy pet beds or do the following preventive acts can save you a few extra years with your mattress:

    • Use a protective mattress cover designed for pets
    • Wash sheets and bedding regularly
    • Discourage eating on the mattress

Your health and that of your mattress indicates that having your pets sleep with you may not be the best decision. Beyond these factors, sleep experts disagree on the benefits and disadvantages of sleeping with pets.

It may be best for your mattress to give your animals their own pet beds, but you can make the final decision for yourself. Rely on your good common sense and make your sleep a priority to help guide your decision.

Me? I’ll still take the comfort of a purring kitty over the risks and irritations of having my pet in bed with me. How about you?

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