Our resident sleep expert, Olivia Arezzolo delves into the science of co-sleeping with a furry friend.
From someone with the cutest Jack Russell puppy on this planet, a puppy who sleeps next to me on my queen bed each night, I’ll testify – sleeping with my puppy is a blessing and a curse.
Sure, I feel all fuzzy when falling asleep looking at her like a mum looks at their baby, and it seems to drown out any anxieties from the day passed.
What’s not so great though is when she decides to lick my face or chew on her bone up next to my ear. Anecdotes aside, what does the science say?
Let’s find out.
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Pets can reduce anxiety, which can otherwise keep you up
A 2020 clinical study highlighted co-sleeping with pets can reduce anxiety – much like co-sleeping with your partner and children.
In being close to them, we feel protected and our heartbeats start to synchronise – which allows us to feel at greater ease.
With bedtime anxiety being a prime reason we struggle to fall asleep, it’s not surprising that the research also found that women sleeping with partners fall asleep faster.
Pet’s don’t disturb sleep
Although my pup Jackie’s night time licking woke me up a few times, this isn’t overly common. The clinical paper noted most pet owners are unaware of their animals movement during the night, and also report that the benefit of sleeping with their furry friend outweighs the costs.
Pets may promote allergies
If you’re tossing and turning all night, coughing, or simply waking unrefreshed, and you’re sleeping with your pet, there may be a connection. A research study published by University of Virginia Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center found cat hair can result in an allergic reaction, leaving you with the symptoms above.
This is even more problematic in autumn and spring, as these allergens attract others which further aggravate your symptoms.
Pets help you feel loved
When we are around our pets, we release love hormone oxytocin – the same hormone pregnant and breastfeeding mothers release.
It’s known as the love hormone because it makes us feel exactly that – love. It promotes this dozy, hazy, fuzzy feeling, which from personal experience, is beautiful to fall asleep with.
And when you’re trying to head off to the land of nod, isn’t that a beautiful feeling to float off to sleep with?
From personal experience, I say yes. Further to that, I’ll say it definitely helps me sleep better.
So all in all, pets get my tick of approval. And yes, that does come from personal and professional research. Sleep well readers – and same goes for your favourite furry friend.
Olivia Arezzolo is a sleep expert who holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); Certificate of Sleep Psychology and a Diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); and Certificate of Fitness III + IV. Olivia is passionate about delivering straightforward, science-based strategies to improve sleep.