Sleep Health

The Great Pet Debate: Should Animals Sleep in the Bed?

Companionship, bonding, memorable moments, entertainment, exercise–these are just a few of the reasons many people choose to bring pets into their lives and hearts. What recent data will reveal, however, is that better sleep may also be another reason to finally bring home that dog.

Wanting to know how pets help their owners find rest, we surveyed over 1,000 people. Some respondents shared their beds with their pets, while others didn’t. We even asked those without pets to reflect on the hypothetical situation. As it turns out, pets, owner demographics, and even the specific ways in which beds are shared can impact sleep quality and much more. Read on to see what we found.

Sharing Is Caring (and Sleeping)

Cuddling with your pets at night may be just as much of a cure as it is cute: The majority of people sleeping with their pets slept better (or the same) than they would if they didn’t share a bed with their pet. Less than a quarter of pet owners believed sleeping with their pets made them sleep worse. What’s more, those sharing their bed with a dog slept better than those sharing their bed with a cat.

Sleep satisfaction also took a hit when participants chose to forgo bedtime pets. 66% of people who slept with a pet were satisfied with their sleep, compared to 57% of people who didn’t sleep with a pet. Once again, sleeping with a dog seemed to yield the best results, with respondents reporting the highest sleep satisfaction and quality.

Satisfaction Outside of Slumber

Many people love sleeping with their pets, but how do their partners feel about it? To answer this question and others like it, we explored how pets in the bedroom impact human romantic relationships. Almost a third of people who slept with a pet would choose to sleep with their pets over their partners. Women and dog owners were the most likely to say they’d pick their pet over their partner. Not surprisingly, many of the people surveyed had disagreed with their partners over whether to let their pets share their bed.

When men and women couldn’t agree as to whether to let their pets share the bed, women won the argument 60% of the time. Ultimately, sharing the bed and not putting up a fight about it might be the ideal way to get some much-needed rest.

Sound Asleep?

But what does sleeping with a pet entail? Do pet owners actually cuddle with their animals? Sixty-three percent said yes. Another 61% said they touch while sleeping, while 53% said they share a blanket. Interestingly, very few participants who shared their beds did none of these things; almost all made physical contact in some form or another. Cuddling was actually the most common way to share a bed with a cat or a dog: 66% of cat owners and 61% of dog owners fell asleep cuddling their furry friends. And those of us who might find that counterintuitive (considering that cats aren’t exactly known for their cuddling abilities) might also be surprised to learn there are certain breeds that are more inclined to indulge their humans.

But how does this make our respondents feel? Well, mostly wonderful: 76% said sleeping with their pets made them feel loved; 68% said it helped them to be more comfortable; and 61% said it helped them to feel connected.

Worth the Wagging Room

Respondents did acknowledge downsides to sleeping with pets. Dog owners complained mostly about Fido getting in the way, while cat owners were the most likely to deal with disturbances throughout the night and their cats getting in their way. Either way, 70% of people who slept with their pets said sharing the bed was completely worth it.

Overall, pet owners were the most likely to complain of their pets getting in the way (75%), taking their preferred spot (71%), and bringing dirt and soil into the bed(68%).

There are also more “silent” disturbances to consider. Previous research has shown the vast amounts of bacteria that dogs can bring into the bed, and most respondents noticed this as well: 67% of dog owners noticed their pets bringing dirt or soil into the bed. Sixty-one percent of pet owners overall also reported some type of miscellaneous unhygienic behavior. Although something like a dog’s lick to the face is probably harmless, most health experts wouldn’t recommend it.

Animal Sleeping Aids

If there’s one thing we learned from this study, it’s that the love, comfort, and safety pets can bring to sleep is completely worth all of the potential downsides. A good night’s sleep is often the cornerstone of good health, and it’s important to prioritize this re-energizing portion of your night, no matter your pet ownership status.

At CPAP.com, we completely understand the necessity of a good night’s sleep. More importantly, we understand just how frustrating it can be for those who haven’t yet found their remedy for achieving that restful state of bliss.

Methodology and Limitations

We surveyed 1,002 people using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Five hundred twelve respondents shared a bed with one or more pets, and 490 did not. Two hundred thirteen respondents did not have pets, and 789 respondents had one or more pets. One hundred eighty-three respondents shared a bed with one or more cats; 239 respondents shared a bed with one or more dogs; and 90 respondents shared a bed with other pets or both cats and dogs. Survey quotas were used to ensure sufficient sample sizes, so these numbers are not proportional to the ratios of each group in the general population. Four hundred thirty-five respondents were men, 566 were women, and one did not identify as male or female.

These data rely on self-reporting, and strict statistical testing has not been performed. Our margin of error was 3% with a 95% confidence interval. To ensure respondents took our survey seriously, all respondents were required to identify and correctly answer a decoyed attention-check question.

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