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55 percent of female pet owners sleep in their bed with at least one dog, according to a 2018 study. And that doesn't even account for male pet owners. But is it a good idea to share your bed with your dog? Scientific research actually says yes! In fact, sleeping with your dog can have real benefits. Here are 13 of them, as outlined by Casper:
Dogs have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in humans, help us relax and increase the flow of oxytocin (the love chemical). These benefits can occur even with just a simple interaction with our dogs.
Furthermore, the release of oxytocin has positive effects on our sleep. In particular, sleeping with your dog, and the chemical release that accompanies it, promotes theta brainwaves. Theta brainwaves occur during the REM stage of sleep, which means sharing a bed with your dog can lead to a deep and rejuvenating sleep.
One unsurprising benefit of sleeping with your dog is that it makes us feel safer. This was particularly true for women. Feeling safer around dogs makes sense given that one prominent instinct of canines is to protect their pack.
Sleeping with your dog has also been shown to help with insomnia because it can reduce anxiety as well as decrease hyperarousal and hypervigilance. These are especially helpful for those who suffer from anxiety-induced insomnia. And even though dogs sleep a lot, they'll be ready to sleep some more when it's time for bed.
Studies have shown that sharing a bed with your dog can decrease the occurrence of nightmares. Furthermore, studies found that sleeping with your dog can help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
41% of pet owners say sleeping with their pet provides companionship. This is particularly the case for those living on their own or single - sharing a bed with their pet reduced feelings of loneliness and helped them sleep.
You may think sharing your bed with a dog would diminish sleep quality, but the opposite is actually true - sleeping with your dog can lead to more efficient sleep. Sleep efficiency is measured by something called "sleep efficiency score," which determines how much time you actually spend sleeping when in bed. Owners who slept with their dogs scored an 81 while their canine companions scored an 85 (a score of 100 is perfect). Not only does sleeping with a dog improve sleep efficiency, but it can also help you keep a better nighttime routine.
Spending time with our pets can reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, 74% of pet owners report an improvement in their mental health from contact with their pet. Sleeping with our pets is no exception. The release of oxytocin we experience from interacting with our pets works to reduce stress by lowering our heart rate and cortisol levels (the stress chemical).
Research shows that interacting with dogs can lower our blood pressure. The American Heart Association is one organization that found a link between the two. This is particularly the case after physical interaction, such as petting or cuddling. These benefits on blood pressure likely won't stop while sleeping with your dog at night.
In general, spending quality time with your dog will strengthen the bond between you two. This includes sleeping in the same bed, which indicates to your dog that he or she is part of your pack. In addition, some dog experts believe sleeping with your dog can help with training and socialization.
As previously mentioned, interacting with dogs can lead to lower blood pressure, which is helpful for heart health. This is especially good news for pet owners in the U.S., given that cardiovascular disease is the nation's leading cause of death. The American Heart Association found a connection between owning a pet and a healthy heart, with decreased systemic hypertension and increased activity.
Some people don't want their dogs to sleep with them because they bring allergens into the bedroom. But a study found that infants who slept with their pets were less likely to develop allergies later on. This is because early exposure can actually be a positive thing, strengthening our immune system and our resistance to allergens.
Sleeping with your dog (and interacting with him or her in general) has shown to positively affect our overall physical health. For example, it can lower cholesterol and decrease triglyceride levels. And that's in addition to the aforementioned benefits like releasing oxytocin, promoting theta brainwaves, lowering blood pressure and promoting heart health.
Check out Casper's infographic on these 13 benefits of sleeping with your dog.