People are often surprised to find out that my husband and I sleep with both of our dogs in the bed.
To be honest, we didn’t plan it that way. It just kind of happened. When I was single, I slept with my little dog in the bed since it was just the two of us. After moving in together, the idea of kicking him out seemed cruel – and after all, he was only a little guy. He really didn’t take up much room.
So he stayed.
Then, we adopted our pit bull/lab/boxer mix – and now our bed is crowded.
And we like it that way.
This is why I found it so validating to learn that sleeping with dogs in the bed can actually be beneficial to our health.
Here are six ways that co-sleeping with your dogs can enhance your wellbeing:
1. Your pet can be an ally in treating mental health problems.
For those of us who suffer from anxiety – or any other mental illness, for that matter – a therapy animal can be a powerful force in navigating the darkness. Animals have been shown to be a strong source of social support, protecting their owners against the struggle of loneliness, troublesome thoughts, and excessive rumination.
2. They help to fight against insomnia.
Many people find it easier to fall asleep when their partner is beside them doing the same. For those who do not have a live-in partner, or whose partner is gone often or not on a similar sleep schedule, a dog can provide a similar effect. A happily sleeping body – human or not – can help to get your own on the same wavelength.
3. Your dog misses you during the day.
For those of us who suffer from dog guilt whenever we leave the house, allowing our best friend to snuggle up at bedtime can go a long way in easing our conscience. For our dogs, bedtime is absolutely the highlight of their day, every single day.
4. They add an element of coziness.
As Charles M. Schulz wrote, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Dogs offer a physical and emotional sense of coziness to your bedroom that even the most clever of interior designers could never top. Without a dog, a bed is just a bed. With one, it becomes a home base to run to at the end of a long day.
5. Dogs are natural protectors.
Sometimes, if I am sleeping alone, I can become a little bit paranoid. What if somebody breaks in? What was that noise? Did I remember to lock up all the windows? Knowing my dogs will act as the first line of defense against any intruder – and likely scare them off by their barking alone – gives me a much needed sense of safety and peace of mind.
6. They provide comfort.
Did you sleep with a special stuffed animal when you were a child? Well, sleeping with your pet is much the same – except that they’re warm, their little hearts beat in sync with your own, and they breathe in and out in a rhythm more soothing than any lullaby. Oh, and they love you.
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace,” wrote Milan Kundera.