Some people spoon their partners at night. Others spoon their pets.

Dogs, cats, even rabbits – you name it, it is likely to be bedfellow to a human somewhere. The literature is divided as to whether this is a good thing. Some studies report increased sleep disruption associated with co-sleeping, while others say that it is beneficial to sleep.

One thing is for sure: Americans love co-sleeping. In a 2022 survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 46% of respondents reported sleeping in the same bed as a pet.1 

Have questions about whether this bedroom practice is for you? Let’s hear from the experts.

Q1: Does your pet have a good temperament?

Safety first. If your dog causes you to “feel any trepidation and fear”, co-sleeping is not advisable, says Steve Brooks, dog trainer and canine behavior expert.1 But if you feel comfortable around your pet, it boils down to preference.

Q2: How often do you wash your sheets?

Let’s face it – pets aren’t the cleanest. They shed fur and dander, which might trigger allergies, and could also bring in unwanted diseases or parasites, like fleas and ticks. 

This is why animal science expert, Dr Jacqueline Boyd, advises pet owners to keep their beds “scrupulously clean” in order to reap the full benefits of co-sleeping. This means washing bedsheets at least once weekly (the average American changes bedsheets once every 24 days). 

Q3: What kind of sleeper are you?

Co-sleeping is not for light sleepers. “Dogs have different sleep patterns from humans – they can be hyperalert,” says Esme Wheeler, dog welfare expert.4 As for cats, their adorable tendency to lie on your chest or legs may end up restricting your movement while sleeping, says Dr. Mikel Delgado, Cat Behaviour Expert with Rover.5

But pets can promote a restful sleep. In a study of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder service dogs, 57% reported that their furry companions helped alleviate their nightmare problems.6

Q4: Does your pet sleep with a child?

“Before a child sleep[s] alone with a pet… they should show that they can handle the responsibility,” says Dr. Carol Osborne, a practicing veterinarian at Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic in Ohio.1

Your pet needs quality snooze too. Children who sleep with pets unsupervised need to have good judgement, such as not pulling on the pet’s tail and being sensitive to its needs.

 Q5: Are you feeling stressed?

Having pets around increases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that bonds mothers to babies. This could be helpful for those with mental health conditions.

“People with depression or anxiety may benefit from having their pet in the bed because the pet is a big pillow, a big blanket, and they may feel that snuggly, cuddly, furry creature decreases their anxiety,” says sleep specialist Dr Raj Dasgupta, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California.

 Is co-sleeping for you? It depends. Make an informed decision by considering your needs, and your pet’s.