Is Co-sleeping With Your Dog a Good Idea?
“Dogs never bite me - just humans.”
–– Marilyn Monroe
Unless they’re chasing their own tails, dogs don’t need to find themselves. Too busy exploring exotic scents and inventing creative ways to play fetch, our furry friends are the embodiment of unconditional love and acceptance. Natural mindfulness teachers, they live each moment to the max. And the positive energy they give off is so powerful, dogs possess the uncanny ability to transform our moods simply by petting them.
Don’t think all those warm and cuddly good vibes go unrewarded. In addition to organic puppy treats, it’s estimated that 1,000,000 U.S dogs have been named the primary beneficiaries in their owners wills. Although, chances are those owners will be around for a long time to come, since a research study in Sweden discovered that having a dog improved owners’ cardiac health and increased their overall lifespans.
Long before therapy dogs were easing anxiety, seeing-eye-dogs were lending their acutely focused senses to help the blind navigate through their daily lives. Like four-legged Yogis, canines have a rich history of selfless service. Also like Yoga, studies show that the calming influence of dogs may lower blood pressure and strengthen the body’s natural immune system.
Goldendoodle, Brussels Griffon, Shiba Inu, cuteness is in the eye of the beholder. And let’s face it, those droopy brown eyes are pretty irresistible. Who could blame us for being attached. As we share life with our beloved pals, no matter how hard we try, establishing boundaries can be tough. Especially at the end of a long day, when our best friend leaps into bed with us, fully expecting to spend the night. It seems that most of us acquiesce. Since according to the Springer Study, "About half of all pet owners share their beds or bedrooms with their pets,” Guess what? There’s no need to feel guilty about giving in, because sleeping with your pet is actually healthy. That’s right… It’s backed in science. Turns out, co-sleeping doesn't just apply to infants anymore. After all, why should wet noses and floppy ears be left out of the mix?
How does it work? Sleep and wellness are intertwined. Without being able to let go, and surrender to our sleep cycles, we’re unable to renew and recharge our internal support systems. Sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic, Lois Krahn, discovered, "people find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets.” Krahn's study, “The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment,” monitored slumber habits of 40 dogs and their owners over a five-month period. Results showed that people who slept with their dogs experienced an improved sleep quality. It makes sense: since we already know dogs have the ability to generate calm feelings. Keeping them with us throughout the night, seems to continue this same positive influence.
Even though sleeping with a dog can promote wellbeing, that doesn’t mean it isn’t wise to establish some ground rules. Let’s be honest, waking up with a paw up your nose is never fun.
Here are some tips to sleep mindfully with your pet.
1 - Personal space matters
Keep your pooch to the foot or the side of the bed. This way you both can move around freely without interfering with the other.
2 - Sleep clean
Just because your Jack Russell enjoys rolling around in muddy park leaves that doesn’t mean your lovely white bedding has to pay the price. Instead of sharing the covers, give your little pal his own cozy security blanket.
3 - The ability to drift off peacefully is key
Some animals grunt or snore during slumber and can disturb your precious sleep cycles. If that’s the case, opt to wear earplugs or have a white noise machine on your nightstand.
However you choose to share your sleep space with your pet, rest easy knowing that love and wellness have you covered through the night. Sweet dreams.