The Surprising Health Benefits of Co-sleeping with your Pet
Are paws really meant for floors? How snuggling up with your pet could boost your health.
Can sharing a bed with our pet boost our immune system?
The Human-Animal bond – The positives of co-sleeping
I’m a pet expert: Here’s How Co-Sleeping with Your Pet Could Improve Your Health
To share or not to share, that is the question! Allowing your pet to sleep on the furniture, or insisting their paws stay firmly on the floor, has been the subject of many a debate between pet owners. A recent survey by Animal Friends Pet Insurance1, found that 87% of cat owners and three quarters of dog owners encourage their furry friends to share their bed.
With such a high number of owners snuggling up at night with their pets, Catrin George, Animal Wellbeing Specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, reveals some interesting insight into how co-sleeping with your pet can be beneficial:
Catrin says: “With over 90% of pet owners* surveyed allowing their furry companions to get comfy on the furniture, it’s fascinating to learn how sharing these spaces can benefit us.”
Strengthens that all-important bond.
Sleeping side by side with your pet can help to increase your bond. Catrin explains: “11% of those surveyed specifically noted that they feel sleeping with their pet helps with bonding. Not only does it help to bring us closer together, but it also provides benefits for your animal companion, as pets who share their humans’ beds tend to have a higher level of trust.2”
Improving mental health.
Owning a pet can really help to improve our mental health3 by providing owners with a source of comfort, companionship, and motivation. Catrin looks at how co-sleeping with our pets helps our mental wellbeing:
“The relaxing effect of interacting with a pet can be linked to physical touch, so sleeping in the same bed with your dog or cat can help ease the mind4.
This makes perfect sense as stroking a pet can help calm and soothe us by lowering the stress hormone cortisol5 and increase the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Not only that, by stroking your pet you are also helping to create a stronger bond and fulfil the basic human need for touch6.
Providing a sense of security.
Having a loyal pet on our bed when we sleep can help owners feel safer in their homes. Our pets’ heightened senses, acute hearing, enhanced sense of smell7, and loud bark (or meow!) could alert us to a potential threat or act as a deterrent should the worse ever happen8.
Catrin comments: “Having a pet, specifically a dog, share our sleeping space can provide pet parents with a greater sense of security3 and offer a feeling of protection, especially when spending nights alone. In fact, 25% of pet owners surveyed that allow their cat or dog on the bed directly stated that they find it comforting9”
Those who choose not to allow their pets on the furniture often state the level of cleanliness as a reason10, however, our immune system may actually thank us for snuggling up with our furry companions.
“While owning a dog or cat significantly increases the bacteria found in a home, it could have a positive impact on the immunity and health of those living there. In fact, research has shown that those of us who own a pet may save the NHS up to £2.45 billion per year, through a reduced number of doctors visits11. A pet’s presence may also be beneficial to the developing immune systems of children and infants, as being exposed to two or more pets in the first year of life could possibly reduce the likelihood of developing allergies to dogs, cats, and dust mites12.”
A healthier heart.
Not only could owning a pet help to improve our immunity, but it has also been scientifically proven that pets can benefit the health of our heart. Catrin explains:
“Dog owners are in luck. The American Heart Association has stated that following a heart attack there is an improved survival rate for such owners13. As for cats, simply owning one can give owners a 30 per cent lower risk of death from heart attack than individuals who do not own a cat14.
“There is a link between pet interaction and decreased hypertension showing pet parents had a significantly smaller increase in heart rate. It was even more obvious when the dog was physically in the room with them, like being curled up in bed next to their owner.”
Sharing not just our homes, but also our beds with our pets can hold numerous advantages for both parties. From an increased sense of security and wellbeing to a boost in immunity and heart health, paws may not strictly be meant just for floors after all. Although do make sure you don’t get nudged to the edge of the bed; there’s plenty of room for all to get a good night’s sleep!