Our furry friends are a huge part of our lives, and whether you have a cat or a dog, there is a good chance that from time to time you let them sleep in your bed. A study by the American Pet Products Association found that 62% of cat owners sleep with their pets, and another 13% of cats sleep with children. The same study showed that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners.
But did you know that your pets could actually be affecting your sleep? Unfortunately, sleeping with your pet could be having a negative effect on your sleep quality in the following ways.
Cats are Nocturnal
Cats are naturally nocturnal animals. This dates back thousands of years before cats were domesticated, and were used to hunting at night. However our pets have inherited this trait from their ancestors. As cat owners will know, cats tend to spend a lot of the daytime sleeping, so if you plan on getting a good night’s sleep with a cat then think again. They will more than likely keep you awake walking around the bed or sitting on your face!
Cats are Territorial
Cats are also territorial animals, so if they get used to sleeping in your bed, they tend to make it their own. Your bed is no longer your bed, it’s theirs! Some cats can even get aggressive if you try to move them from their new found bed, and can hiss or scratch at you if you try to move them. You are much better off setting out ground rules from day one and keeping your cat out of the bedroom.
Dogs are Restless
Dogs can be restless in bed, and can move, kick and bark in their sleep. This is caused by the fact that dogs, like humans, enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phases. This is also referred to as active sleep. In fact, up to 25% of a dogs time spent sleeping is in a REM state, so don’t be surprised if you spend 25% of your time in bed with your dog awake!
Sleeping with your Pets Could Cause Illness
Sleeping with your pets could also have other implications on your wellbeing. When sleeping in such close proximity to your pet, it is very easy to pick up illnesses or infections from them, such as antibiotic-resistant infections, meningitis, ringworm, or intestinal parasites. Children are especially at risk, and could also develop respiratory illnesses from sleeping with your pets.
Some studies show kicking your pet out of the bedroom could be of benefit to your pet too. Some veterinarians believe that allowing dogs to sleep on human beds is a not a good thing, behaviourally speaking. Puppies that are more prone to issues with aggression may fully develop these behaviours when allowed to sleep with humans.
On the other side of the coin, there are some benefits from sleeping with your furry friend. It is definitely relaxing, and provides companionship and comfort, and also a feeling of safety, but if your sleep is suffering as a consequence it is time to get your pet out of the bedroom!