If you love to snuggle up with your dog or cat in bed at night, you aren’t alone. More than half of dog owners encourage their pup to sleep next to them and a similar percentage of cat owners do the same. It’s easy to see why. Being able to physically touch another being, say by feeling the steady breathing of an animal, can raise oxytocin levels, which helps you feel more content. Also, the comfort that comes from cuddling can help you feel less lonely, stressed, or depressed.
But just because it’s popular doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. One of the biggest concerns for people who share a bed with an animal is potential sleep disruption due to the animal moving, making noises, and taking up precious space. (If Fido wakes at 3:00am to scratch near his collar or bark at something that’s outside a bedroom window, you’re likely to be roused from your slumber.) Pets can also impact intimacy between you and your partner—after all, it’s tough to feel “in the mood” for romance when there’s a snoring beast nearby!
Another concern: Sharing a bed with your pet can cause you to become sick. That’s because animals can carry illnesses that humans can catch and the close physical contact that happens when sleeping makes it easy for things to spread. Things can also get bad if you have allergies or asthma. If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t even have pets in your bedroom at all—not even on the bedroom floor. Think of the time that you spend sleeping as a chance to recover from being around irritants all day long.
If you don’t trust your dog to be out and about in your house at night because you’re afraid that he might pee or wreck something, crate him. It might take a few weeks to get your animal comfortable with a crate, but it will benefit you—and your sleep—in the long run.