We have an Auntie Sandy in our lives and she is a complete rock star to my kids. Telling my kids that they are having an overnight at Auntie Sandy’s is like telling my husband his kids are having an overnight anywhere! It’s pretty freaking amazing.
So when my eldest told me she doesn’t want to sleep in Auntie Sandy’s room I thought it was so odd. She worships this woman. When I asked her why she sheepishly told me that Charlie, my Aunt's adorable Yorkie, keeps her up all night moving about and scratching. Her words exactly - “Mom, the next day I’m just exhausted.”
This got me thinking. I know many people struggle with sleep when bed sharing with their toddlers, or are kept awake at night from their partner snoring. I also know a lot of people who sleep with their pets, so it would make sense that those who bed share with their pets also struggle with sleep, right?
According to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, nearly half of those who participated slept with their dogs and 62% slept with their cats, 13% of those cats slept with children. A 2012 Harris poll revealed that more women slept with their pets than men, while cats were the more common bed fellows compared to dogs.
First I’m going to ignore the scary “Bed Sharing With Pet” headlines like the potential to contract the bubonic plague, cat scratch fever (nope, not the song), or meningitis. You have a higher chance of becoming George Clooney’s third wife than contracting any of these illnesses.
As I tell all my families who have a family bed: if what you are doing works for your family, and you are all able to get the healthy sleep you need to function and be a thriving family unit, who am I to tell you to stop? It’s the same with your pets. If you don’t have asthma and your sleep isn’t disrupted throughout the night, then sleeping with your pet is perfectly fine. Actually sleeping with your dog or cat has been proven for some to help with insomnia due to stress and anxiety, and works better than using any other form of sleeping aid. Better health can be promoted as studies have shown this arrangement can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and general feelings of loneliness.
If you do sleep with your pet and feel that changes need to be made, it may take some time and lots of consistency. It’s tough to train a pet to sleep in a new environment. If you are consistent with removing them from your bed, it could take a few weeks before new habits are created. It also may be a good idea to call a professional trainer that can help develop a plan and coach you through it.
So if sleeping with your pet works for you it’s okay, just make sure you have good flea and tick control, cuddle up, and sleep on.
I provide free child and family sleep support on my Facebook page. I invite you to join our sleep community as I work towards Good Night Sleep Site's mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site and visit me on Instagram and Twitter. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.