Sleeping with Pets: The Debate Continues

Should we allow our pets to sleep in our bed?

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a weighty debate, but it’s one that keeps coming up over and over.  We covered it in an article on the front page of the last fall entitled “Is it time to kick Fido out of your bed?”  We even mentioned in passing in a sleep news article posted yesterday.

While we understand our pets are animals and not people, for many this debate brings up strong feelings akin to the debate over whether co-sleeping with children is a good idea.  So, we’ll continue to present the pros and cons of animal co-sleeping, and let you decide whether it’s the best thing for you.

The latest opinions on the matter come from Dr. Mary Rose, assistant professor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Baylor University’s College of Medicine.  She gives a good rundown of why for some, it’s actually beneficial to sleep with pets.  The following comes from a recent news release from Baylor:

Pets can create a sense of safety, security and comfort, and the rhythmic beating of their heart as well as the release of bonding hormones such as oxytocin may aid the owner with their own sleep, said Rose.

Assistance dogs may also be useful in the bed or bedroom for those who have trouble with sleep walking.

For children who have night fears or nightmares, an animal may provide a sense of security and make the child less likely to wander into other rooms in the middle of the night.

Being a responsible doctor, Rose also gives the other side of the argument:

If the animal provokes allergies, the owner must review the situation with an allergist to see if it’s safe to sleep with the pet. If the pet is not well trained and wakes the owner in the middle of the night, it would be disrupting to have the pet in the room.

Because cats are nocturnal animals, they tend to walk around more during the night, which can also be disruptive.

Rose also warns that it’s never a good idea to have a pet in the same bed as an infant.

Do you sleep with your pets?  What are the benefits for you?  What about the downsides?  Let us know in comments!