It is reported that over half of pets sleep in the bed with owners. This is not surprising considering animals are often a few degrees warmer than humans creating a cozy, cuddly environment early in the evening. However, this is not likely to continue throughout the entire night and can greatly affect sleep quality.
Animals can be territorial, meaning your bed becomes theirs. In some cases, dogs have been known to protect the beds in which they sleep from other visitors. If you have other pets or even children that want to slide into bed with you during the night, you can easily be awakened with growls or other protective behavior.
As for cats, once they are allowed to sleep in a space, it is is their territory. It is extremely difficult to convince them otherwise. If you have any doubts on whether you want to share your bed then it is best not to even let them in. If you let a kitten sleep on your pillow for a few months and then decided is not working, you’ll likely face sleepless nights as you retrain them or deal with destructive behavior as they act out frustration.
Dogs are similar to humans in the way they dream throughout the night. When they fall into REM sleep, their brain activity might lead them to a dream state where they end up acting out some of that activity. This means you may to be subjected to barking, dream whining, or other noises as well as jerky movements.
Dogs are prone to nesting, which means they may dig, scratch, or turn in circles multiple times in order to secure their perfect sleeping space. This can be disturbing when done in middle of the night.
Another issue with sleeping with pets is the fact that they are a large producer of allergens. For those who have respiratory issues or asthma, sleeping with a pet increases the likelihood of triggered episodes. Not only does the dander from the pets make it into your sleeping area, but any other allergens that have attach themselves to your pet's fur also makes its way in. In fact, it is often suggested in these cases to not allow animals into your bedroom at all. However, if they do make their way in, consider placing an air filter nearby to help reduce the effects.
Just because you are ready to sleep throughout the night does not mean your pet is. Cats are nocturnal, which means that while they may go to sleep with you, they are not prone to staying that way. This means you may be awakened due to movements or little furry paws climbing over your face to get off and on the pillow.
While the general consensus is that sleeping with your pet is bad for your health, the comfort and connectedness it offers cannot be completely discounted. For some who find it difficult to fall to sleep or are of an anxious nature, having pets on the bed can be somewhat beneficial. Take note of whether you are waking from a full night’s sleep with bags beneath your eyes, though. If you are, you might want to rethink your sleeping arrangements. Sometimes buying a bigger mattress can also be a solution for a pet who is determined to sleep on your bed.