7 Ways Your Dog Can Affect Your Sleep
My pit bull, Jack, is an absolute dream when it comes to snoozing. If I stay up too late, she guilts me into bed with her sad, sad puppydog eyes. And once we're in bed, she zonks out over my legs like the world's warmest weighted blanket. But not all dogs are good napping buddies, and while I know it can be hard to relegate your canine companion to the floor or their crate while you sleep, there are unfortunately ways dogs can affect your sleep for the worse.
If you've ever trained a dog, you've probably run across endless conversations about why letting your dog sleep in your bed is bad, why it's good, why it might make them think they're the "alpha," why it can help you balance your relationship and spend time together. There's merit to each of these points of view, but what I'm focusing on here is the sheer fact that having a dog in your bed may not be good for you because of the type of sleeper you are. Or maybe your dog just isn't cut out for co-sleeping.
Whether you've been letting your dog sleep with you for a while or you're trying to prep for having a new furbaby in the house, looking over these signs your ZZZ buddy isn't great for you will help you determine whether your dog should be in your bed.
1. Throwing Off Your Sleep/Wake Times
My dog may put me to bed on time, but if your dog has trouble settling down at night or is getting you up too early in the morning, you can find yourself with a messed-up sleep schedule, and that can seriously interfere with everyday life. Some dogs are more nocturnal, and that's fine, but if their schedule and yours don't mesh, they may need to have their own sleeping space so they can snooze when they please and you can still get some quality shut-eye.
2. Keeping You From Getting Restful Sleep
Just like people, dogs move around when they sleep. Shifting position, occasionally waking to dig in the blankets and settle back down... If you're the kind of person who can't fall asleep once you've been woken up, sharing your bed with your pup may not be in the cards for you. And if you already share your bed and you've noticed you're tired in the mornings, you may be being woken intermittently by your pup at night and not remembering it in the morning — but it's still having an effect on you.
3. Giving You Weird Dreams
Bad dreams can be random, but the chances of you having them can be upped by factors in your environment and lifestyle, according to WebMD. While having a new companion in the bed certainly won't trigger bad dreams for everyone, your sleepy brain may be stressed out by an unfamiliar presence in the bed, leading to disturbing dreams. And if those dreams wake you or upset your sleep, they could cause sleep deprivation, which, unfortunately, is also known for triggering bad dreams.
4. Stealing The Bed
In a "should you let your dog sleep with you" study from the Mayo Clinic that found largely pro-pup results, researchers noted that participating dogs' positions in bed did make a difference in the quality of sleep their companion human got. If your dog hogs the bed, wants to sleep up against you when you'd prefer no touching, or is otherwise preventing you from being comfortable, it's time to find alternate arrangements.
5. Interfering With Your Relationship
If you have a partner or partners who share your bed, you're going to have to take them into consideration. Maybe you're a deep sleeper who has no problem sharing your pillow with your pupper, but if you think your dog may disturb other people in your sleep zone, that may be a reason to establish a sleeping routine that includes your dog being in their crate or on the floor. That can be rough, especially if you're used to sleeping with your dog, but distressing and possibly alienating partners is a very real consequence.
6. Exacerbating Your Allergies
Here's one I'm guilty of letting happen. I know I'm allergic to dogs and that having mine in my bed, shedding everywhere, negatively impacts my allergies, but since mine aren't serious and I'm on medication, I let it go. However, if you have more serious allergies, you might want to keep the fur machines off your bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, both nasal/sinus allergies and asthma can cause insomnia, so if you've got either condition, make sure you're paying attention to how your dog affects your breathing.
7. Forcing You To Adjust
This last one is very general, but I want to encourage you to think beyond surface problems like getting sniffly from blanket-stealing and a sore back from twisting your body to give your dog room. If you find yourself capitulating to your dog in small ways that are overall having a negative effect on you, I promise it's worth it to investigate other sleeping solutions. If your dog is snoozing with you, it should be beneficial for both of you, bar none.
Letting your dog sleep in your bed can be a very fun bonding experience, but there are plenty of factors that can affect whether you and your dog are a good co-sleeping match-up. Ultimately, you should keep these potential downsides in mind, and make sure you and your pup's sleeping routines aren't being negatively impacted. And remember — you can always make time for cuddles during the day.