A 2011 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that roughly half of all pet owners slept with their pet. The numbers vary by the animal but the evidence suggests that sharing a bed is not uncommon yet it doesn’t always lead to the most restful sleep. We’ve put together a list of the top three pet-related sleep disturbances along with a few ways to reduce their effects so you can get a full seven to nine hours of sleep.
Dander and Allergies
Allergy sufferers are going to have a hard time escaping pet dander if a dog or cat shares the bed. Hair and dander can stick to almost anything, including wood furniture and flooring, walls, and glass. Even if you keep your pet in one area of the bedroom, it creates opportunities for sinus and airway irritation all night long.
Those with severe allergies may want to forgo a pet in the bedroom altogether. An allergic reaction can close airways, which at the very least leads to wakefulness and at the worst could cause a life-threatening allergic reaction.
However, if you can’t fall asleep without your favorite furry friend, you have some options.
Try: The first is to keep your bedroom as clean as possible. Regularly wipe down flat surfaces and vacuum upholstery and draperies on a consistent schedule. An air purifier and vacuum with a HEPA filter can help keep dander under control, too. Your second option is allergy shots, which can help build your dander tolerance. You may not breathe free and easy but your risk of serious allergic reaction goes down.
2. The Takeover
Sometimes there’s simply not enough room in the bed for everyone. This tends to be more of a problem with large dogs than small breeds or cats, but any pet may be guilty of taking more than their fair share of bed space.
Try: While pets may naturally want to take over, as master of the house, you have the final say. Animals can be trained to stay in a specific area, including at the foot of the bed. Start by establishing where your pet’s designated place is. Then, each time he tries to leave that space during the night, take him back to his spot. It will take some effort and consistency on your part but it can be done.
Your other, and sometimes easier, option is to get a pet bed for the floor. They can be placed in the corner or at the head of the bed so you can reach down for a midnight pat on the head.
3. Movement-Related Disruptions
Unfortunately, even a pet that stays at the foot of the bed can wake you up due to restlessness and movement. Animals can get rambunctious in their dreams. They may also get up to pace or shift positions during the night.
Try: The answer to this problem may lie in your mattress. Innerspring mattresses tend to transfer more motion across the whole surface of the mattress than other designs. Your best bet is to find a mattress with motion isolation so that when your pet chases his dream squirrel, you stay blissfully unaware. A less expensive option is a mattress topper that can absorb some of the extra movement but costs less than a mattress.
Health and safety are always your first priority but sometimes that includes your emotional health, which may rely on having your best friend nearby. You might have to make a few changes to your and your pet’s nighttime accommodations. Rest assured that if you want to share your bed, there’s a way to make it work so everyone gets a full night’s rest.