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Co-Sleeping with Pets: The New Rules of Bed Sharing

Hayley Dawes
12 February 2023

Animal lovers debate about allowing or banning their pets to climb under the duvet with them – and how it’s often not really up to the humans anyway! So, is it unhygienic or joyful?

Almost half of British pet owners frequently sleep in bed with their dog or cat, according to a survey by Animal Friends. Yet, for some of the greatest animal lovers, pets in bed sounds like hell.

While there has been debate surrounding the subject for years, many studies find that sleeping with your pet can actually be good for you. A dog’s body warmth, steady heartbeat and protective nature can make co-sleeping with them feel safe and cosy. Sleeping with your dog can help improve your health in numerous ways. From increasing feelings of comfort to reducing anxiety and stress, having a furry companion to sleep with can be good for both of you.


The general consensus is that sleeping with a pet is not good for your sleep. Their movements and noises are likely to disturb you. Yet, for many pet owners, the pros to co-sleeping with an animal outweigh the potential health hazards. Some people feel safer and happier if they sleep with a pet, even if they don’t get as good quality sleep. Many pet owners report that the psychological benefits of co-sleeping overshadow any sleep disturbance caused.

Despite the drawbacks to co-sleeping with a dog, researchers explain that so many owners do it because the benefits likely outweigh the disadvantages. Studies have shown many physical and mental health advantages to owning a pet, and co-sleeping increases the amount of time spent with that pet, potentially increasing those benefits. For example, co-sleeping can increase the feelings of comfort and companionship your dog provides.

Eases insomnia

There are few things worse than lying awake at night, not being able to sleep. Studies have shown that having a dog in the bed can help relieve insomnia by mitigating anxiety and modifying hyperarousal and hypervigilance – all of this creates a better mood and environment for slumber, which can help combat insomnia.

Reduces depression

Their presence helps us relax and increases our flow of oxytocin, the love chemical – this essentially makes your dog a living antidepressant. It can also help lower your heart rate, lower the stress chemical cortisol, and ultimately help you get a better night’s rest.

Promotes theta brainwaves

Building on the fact that sleeping with dogs increases the flow of oxytocin, this also has a profound impact on how deeply we sleep. Sleeping with your dog, and the chemicals that accompany the experience, promote theta brainwaves, which are known to occur during the REM stage of sleep.

Studies have shown that when dogs are with their owners their heartbeats synch up. This is further proof of the calming effects the presence of a dog can have on the human brain.

Increases sense of security

Co-sleeping with your dog can also ease anxiety and provide a feeling of safety and security. Your light-sleeping canine will alert you to anything out of the ordinary, so you can rest easy through the night. Dogs are also perfect bed warmers, keeping you toasty on a cold night.


When it comes to hygiene, Dr Jerry Klein says that as loving as dogs can be, there is a risk of ticks, fleas, dirt, and hair transferring to your bed. one of the main concerns is the transmission of zoonotic diseases, which are transmissible from animals to people. As loving as dogs are, they are not the most hygienic and they have been known to carry and transmit germs and parasites, fleas, and mites in their saliva. These can be contagious to adults and young people, especially if they have compromised immune systems. Cats, on the other hand, are cleaner because they wash themselves every day.

For most people, this doesn’t generally have serious consequences, however, anyone allowing pets in bed should clean their sheets regularly, every 3-4 days, and their duvet cover every week. How often you wash your dog depends on the breed and their coat, but generally at least once or twice a month, and perhaps more if they’ve been for a muddy walk or have been rolling around outside.

Tips For Co-Sleeping Safely

As beneficial as sleeping near your dog can be, it’s best to lay a set of ground rules before doing so. You will want your dog to know what they can and can’t do, so as to not disrupt your sleep:

Set boundaries: Establish an area of the bed that your dog can sleep in. make sure it is clear to them where they are allowed and where they are not.

Don’t allow aggression: If your pet exhibits aggression toward you or toward someone you share a bed with, sleeping with them will be difficult. That behaviour shouldn’t be allowed in the sleeping area.

Keep pets above the covers: This can help eliminate some of the downsides of co-sleeping with your dog, such as allergens. Teach your dog to sleep above the covers.

Take them out before bedtime: Make sure you take them outside right before you go to bed and immediately when you wake up in the morning.

Keep your pet clean: Keeping your pet bathed can also help keep the dirt and allergies to a minimum while in bed.

Use a mattress protector: Including a mattress cover in your bedding collection can have a big impact on how well it stands up to usage from pets. Purchase one that is water, dirt, and allergy resistant.

When To Not Co-Sleep with Pets

Co-sleeping with a dog is not for everyone. Some research shows that in certain cases, sleeping with pets can hinder your ability to rest. Here are some instances in which you should consider letting your dog sleep in his own bed:

  • If they aren’t house trained
  • If you have allergies
  • If you are a light sleeper
  • If you have a new dog
  • If you or your dog have health issues