Creating a comfortable and ideal sleep environment is important for anyone trying to get a good night's sleep. If you share your bed with your pet, however, you may want to reconsider.
Sharing your bed with your pets can interfere with sleep, but it can be very hard for us to deny our beloved pets the opportunity to curl up in our beds. Pets are like family members, and we don't like to exclude them from snuggling with us when they show so much affection and beg to be with us at night. However, dogs and cats are just as likely to snore as your human bed partner, and are much more likely to wake you during their nightly grooming rituals.
Allowing your cat or dog to sleep next to you may be harmful to more than just your sleep. A recent article suggests that letting your pets sleep in your bed or excessively lick your face can lead to getting diseases and parasites. These conclusions are based on a study done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which claims that over half of people with pets allow them to sleep in their beds. Interestingly, the study also suggests that women are more likely than men to let pets sleep in their beds.
We've always known that dogs and cats are carriers for fleas and ticks, but some of the diseases and parasites outlined in the study are downright gross: MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Meningitis -- even the plague! These diseases are classified as Zoonoses, as they are diseases or infections transmitted from animals to humans -- if you're having trouble sleeping, the last thing you need are nightmares about Zoonoses!
This is not to say that you should start looking at your dog or cat as the harbinger of the Bubonic Plague -- I have two dogs and a cat, and my human family and I could never stop loving the members of our animal family. But I do advocate that people and pets have separate sleeping arrangements, no matter how hard it is to convince your pet that he or she is no longer welcome in the bed. If you have allergies, sleeping in a separate room than your pet may help with those as well.
If you aren't getting a good night's sleep, chances are high the dog next to you isn't either -- bunk beds may be the healthier option for both of you.
Michael J. Breus, Ph.D.
The Sleep Doctor™