For lots of pet owners, showing love for your furry friend means spending as much time as possible together — including when you're asleep. But could letting your pet sleep in your bed be bad for your health?
Can it make you sick?
The short answer is: Probably not.
The longer answer: In some cases, sharing a bed with a pet could increase your risk of illness. This is typically only the case for people with compromised immune systems (like transplant patients, for example) and the very young or the elderly. A study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases found that such people actually do face a greater risk of becoming sick after sharing a bed with a pet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60 percent of human pathogens can be transmitted by an animal, which means you can catch things from your pet.
Are there other health risks?
Yes. The biggest is actually the impact it has on your sleep quality.
A study from the Mayo Clinic looked into the affects of sharing a bed with your furry friend on sleep quality. They found that sleeping with a pet led to study participants waking up throughout the night (while sleeping with a human co-sleeper did not).
While sleep efficiency wasn't terrible with dogs (it was about 83 percent for people who slept with their dog in the room, but not the bed and 80 percent for those who slept with their dog in the bed), waking up throughout the night meant that even though participants were getting a good amount of sleep, it wasn't good quality — in fact, it was the equivalent of getting just four hours of sleep.
Lois Krahn, study author and a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine on Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, released a statement explaining that having a dog sleep in the room, but not in the bed, has no negative impact on sleep quality.
So why sleep with your dog?
Krahn says that the main reason people sleep with their pets, in spite of some health risks, is to spend more time with them. With our busy schedules, we want to pack in as much puppy time as possible, and that makes sense.
"Today, many pet owners are away from their pets for much of the day, so they want to maximize their time with them when they are home. Having them in the bedroom at night is an easy way to do that. And, now, pet owners can find comfort knowing it won't negatively impact their sleep," she said according to Newsweek.
Learn more about the importance of your pet' sleep cycle by reading through the research about what causes pets to sleep too much and whether or not you should wake your dog from a nightmare. Head over to Cuteness' pet behavior hub for even more insight into your furry friend.