According to the latest National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of American households own at least one pet. Thirty years ago, that number was only 56 percent.
Pet ownership continues to rise, and industry has grown to support it. In 2016, people spent nearly $67 billion taking care of their pets, up 10 percent year over year.
As one might expect, dogs and cats maintain remain the most popular pets. Of nearly 85 million pet-owning homes, over 60 million homes have a dog (44%), and 47 million have a cat (33%), 8 million have a bird, and 29 million have another pet, whether it’s a horse, gerbil, reptile, or fish.
Facts About Sleeping With Your Pet
Just as they love their pets, people also love sleeping with them. About half of pet owners share the bedroom with their bed. Of those, 62 percent of cats sleep with their owners, while 45 percent of dogs share the bed with their owners.
It’s clear that many pet owners prefer to sleep with their pets, but is it healthy?
Benefits of Sharing the Bed with Your Pet
Pet owners report many benefits to sleeping with their pets.
- No matter how large or small your pet is, you feel safer and more secure.
- Thanks to the oxytocin released simply by petting your pet, you feel less stressed and more relaxed.
- Because pets tend to run hotter than humans, you feel warm and cozy.
- Just like sleeping with another person strengthens your emotional bond, you feel closer to your pet by spending more time with them.
Many pet owners enjoy the increased sense of comfort their pets bring to the sleeping environment. The positive emotions they create can help reduce much of the anxiety associated with insomnia. Plus, pets are expert snoozers, often falling asleep instantly and breathing rhythmically, providing a living white noise machine for their insomniac owners.
Risks of Sharing the Bed with Your Pet
The benefits of sleeping with your pet are real, but there a few risks you should be aware of. Fortunately, they’re fairly minimal.
For example, a 2014 study by Queensland University found that individuals who slept with their pets took 4 minutes longer to fall asleep and were more likely to report feeling tired when they woke up. However, that tiredness didn’t last throughout the day, and 4 minutes is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
While some individuals report their pets disturb their sleep at least occasionally, it’s not enough to keep them from sharing a bed with Fido or Fifi, according to a survey by the Mayo Clinic.
What’s causing that disturbed sleep?
- If you’re a light sleeper, pets may wake you whenever they shift positions in bed, rustle or act out their dreams, and jingle their collars while scratching.
- Cats are nocturnal and prone to sit on you to wake you up. Dogs, on the other hand, spend most of their night sleeping, but they might hog the bed while they do it.
Besides disturbed sleep, there are most potential health risks of sleeping with your pet.
- Even if you don’t share the bed, allowing your pet in the bedroom can aggravate pet allergies or asthma and make it more difficult for affected individuals to breathe. Pet dander and allergens can stick to other surfaces even after the pet has left the room, so experts recommend using a HEPA filter or keeping them out of the bedroom entirely.
- There is a small but real risk of zoonotic diseases like meningitis or cat scratch disease, since your pet has no problem interacting with dirt, feces, and other gross things in the outside world… and then licking your face or scratching you and breaking skin. Fortunately, this risk mostly goes away as long as you keep your pet in good health and up to date on his or her vaccinations and flea medication.
- If you have a dog, they may develop dominance or aggression issues. In their eyes, they’re gaining more territory on par with you. Training can help address these issues.
Fortunately, workarounds for any of the problems described above may be as simple as removing your pet from the bedroom, delegating them to a specific spot on the bed, or getting them their own bed or kennel on the floor. Unless you are sick, share your bed with an infant or young child, or otherwise have a compromised immune system, sleeping with your pet should be relatively risk-free.
Sleep Products for You and Your Pet
If you share your bedroom with your pet, there are plenty of bedding products to make it a more comfortable experience and ensure you both get a good night’s sleep.
Best Mattresses for Pet Owners
What’s the best type of mattress for someone who shares their bed with a pet? Look for a mattress with superior motion transfer (meaning that you’re less likely to notice when someone or something is moving on the bed). The best mattresses for this are memory foam mattresses. Because the foam conforms to your body, you will sink slightly into the bed and be less disturbed by your pet moving around. This becomes especially important for light sleepers, or owners of large dogs or particularly frisky cats. Memory foam mattresses typically cost between $800 and $,1000.
While their motion transfer isn’t quite as strong as foam mattresses, latex mattresses are still above average and offer the additional advantage of being constructed from organic materials that are naturally resistant to dust mites, allergens, bacteria, and fungi. An average latex mattress costs around $1,900.
Conversely, the worst type of mattress to share with a pet is a traditional innerspring mattress. Not only will you feel when your pet is moving in the bed (unless you are a very deep sleeper), but you may also hear them depending on the quality of the springs.
If your pet is on the larger side, get a larger mattress to accommodate. Review the standard sizes of queen, king, and California king mattresses here.
Air purifiers and HEPA filters
Hypoallergenic mattress covers
Waterproof sheets, pillows and duvet covers
Dog crates and kennels
Heating and cooling pads
Pet steps and ramps
How to Recycle Bedding to Help Animal Shelters
From volunteers to physical goods, animal shelters are always in need of more resources. Whether you want to give back to the shelter you adopted your pet from, or you simply want to be thoughtful of the environment, here’s how you can help.
Pet Shelter Wish List Items
Besides food, one of the greatest needs shelters have is bedding and cleaning materials. Typically, most shelters will accept the following items:
- Kennels, crates, and beds
- Bath mats, towels, and rugs
- Blankets and sheets
- Newspapers and shredded office paper
You’re not limited to pet products, as you may have noticed from the inclusion of bath mats on the list. Many human products that have outlived their usefulness can be donated to shelters. Old blankets, towels of all sizes, and human sheets can be repurposed by shelters for bedding and bath needs. Shelters use old newspapers and shredded office paper to make small animal, puppy or kitten cages more comfortable and clean.
Items Shelters Won’t Accept
Wash bedding before bringing it to the shelter and ensure all items still maintain their basic functionality. Kennels and crates should close and latch properly. Small tears or a few stray threads are fine on beds and bedding, but the stuffing and seams should generally be intact. If you bring something that’s in terrible condition, you’ll end up causing more work for the shelter since they’ll have to it out in order to avoid an animal eating or choking on the bedding.
While many human products are helpful for shelters, such as the ones listed above), many shelters will not accept old clothing or human bedding, since it isn’t designed to be as durable as pet bedding and could cause a choking hazard for the animals.
How to Donate to Animal Shelters
Animal shelters care for 6 to 8 million animals each year, and they are always in need of donations.
Before donating, visit the website of your local shelter. Most have a Wish List section that lists their most-needed items. This section will also list the times they are open to accept donations, and where you can drop them off. Many shelters partner with local pet supply stores and groomers, so it may be as easy as dropping of the bed in a donation bin the next time you go pick up pet food. Many local shelters also operate a thrift store, where you may be able to donate other human items not included on the list above.
If you have any questions about the condition or suitability of your donation, call first or message the shelter on Facebook.
Why Donating is Important
Donations help ensure shelters stay open and continue saving the lives of animals in your city. Often, shelters receive very limited or no government funding, and local shelters typically don’t receive donations from national charities like the ASPCA or Humane Society. During their time at the shelter, animals receive food, board, and flea and tick medication, and are microchipped and spayed or neutered. Many animals may undergo surgery or receive additional medications.
The cost of caring for an animal can range from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000, depending on the animal’s health. Further, shelters aim to keep adoption fees fairly low in order to allow more people to save animals. Ranging from $25 to $300, adoption fees don’t cover the cost of caring for the animal, or the many overhead costs shelters have, such as utilities, rent, and more.
If you don’t have anything physical to donate to your local shelter, you can always donate your time as a volunteer or give a monetary donation.
Online Resources for People with Pets and Sleep
For all pet lovers:
- Tuck is a go-to resource for all information regarding human sleep, but their guide to Animals and Sleep answers all your questions about exotic animals, which animals sleep the most per day, and how some animals manage to sleep while standing up or flying.
- Reddit is the most popular online forum, boasting over 250 million users. Besides subreddits devoted to animal memes and cute baby animals, there are also subreddits dedicated to domestic cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, and all kinds of pets. For specific subreddits by breed and training questions, see the full list of Animal Reddits here.
- PetGuide offers training resources, an online forum, health information, and guides to adoption, insurance, and pet products for cats, dogs, fish, horses, rabbits, and turtles.
- PetMD focuses on health care for pets, with guides to emergency care, nutrition needs, and more by breed. Their community forum section connects pet owners with veterinarians and behaviorists.
- WebMD’s Pets section hosts a community forum and shares helpful articles for dog and cat owners.
- The Pets section of The Spruce dedicates subsections to dogs, cats, birds, horses, small pets, and reptiles and amphibians, providing advice for responsible pet ownership and creating a comfortable home environment.
For specific pets:
- Catster shares many of the articles from their print magazine on their website, along with a community forum.
- Cesar’s Way, the website behind dog whisperer Cesar Millan, shares behavior and training guidance for dog owners, along with tips and products for sleeping with your dog.
- The American Kennel Club shares resources for dog owners to help with kennel and crate training and sleeping with your pet.
- In addition to their print magazine, Dogster shares training articles and videos on their website and connects dog lovers through their community forum.
- The House Rabbit Society is a non-profit rescue organization for rabbits. In addition to connecting rabbit lovers with their future adoptees, they also share care information for providing a healthy home environment.
- My House Rabbit was started buy two bunny lovers who now share educational articles about caring for indoor rabbits.
- The Hamster House offers guides to caring and feeding pet hamsters as well as treating them when they’re ill.
- Since 2005, Parrot Forums has been connecting parrot owners with each other to answer their health and care questions.
- TheHorse.com is the online version of the print magazine that provides resources for equine health care and responsible horse ownership.