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If you share your bed with your dog at night, you’re certainly not the only one. A lot of pet owners appreciate the cozy feeling they get from sleeping with their canine companion.
But science is beginning to show us that the benefits may go well beyond warm and fuzzy feelings, with a number of mental and physical health benefits now also being recognized.
So, with that in mind, here are 11 reasons why sleeping with a man’s best friend could be beneficial as a remedy for everything from helping prevent nightmares and insomnia to PTSD.
1. Helps reduce depression
Contact with dogs increases the flow of oxytocin, the chemical released when we’re in love. This chemical helps to reduce stress and anxiety which are associated with depression, so sleeping with your dog could be like having a big furry antidepressant in your bed.
2. Increases your sense of security
A dog has historically been a means of protection, guarding the tribe against intruders, so you tend to feel more comfortable with the subconscious knowledge that your dog is keeping watch while you sleep. This feeling of security, whether real or imagined, can help you to sleep more soundly.
3. Combats insomnia
Having a dog in the bed can help to relieve insomnia or the inability to sleep by reducing feelings of anxiety and hyper-vigilance (over-alertness) and creating a more relaxed mood for sleeping. Other ways to combat insomnia can include having a regular bedtime every night, exercising more, and avoiding electronics before bed.
4. Reduces nightmares
Those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have reported experiencing less stress-related nightmares when their support dog sleeps in their bed with them overnight.
5. Helps lower blood pressure
General interaction with dogs such as touching and petting has been shown to lower blood pressure in humans and this is, even more, the case when humans and their dogs sleep together.
6. Makes training easier
Sleeping with your dog is believed to help with socialization. It strengthens the bond between you and your dog and lets them know they are part of your pack, making it easier to train them to obey your commands.
7. Decreases hypertension
Sharing a bed with your canine companion has been shown to help with systemic hypertension in pet owners, This may be partly because of its calming effect and ability to help lower blood pressure and also possibly because pet ownership promotes a more active (and healthier) lifestyle in general.
8. Reduces allergies
Thanks to early exposure to allergens from their pets, many people who share a bed with their dogs in their childhood have been found to be less likely to develop allergies later in life.
9. Provides a furry alarm clock
If you have trouble waking up in the morning, your canine sleeping companion can be a big help in getting you out of bed. If they’re used to being fed at a certain time every morning, they’ll wake you up on time to make sure it happens.
10. They help keep you warm
If you live in a cold climate, a dog makes a great bed warmer. PetNPat explains that dogs regulate their body temperature in nature with various layers of fur, which act to keep heat in or reflect it back out. So snuggle up to them and they’ll keep you warm and cozy all night.
11. Helps with separation anxiety
Finally, not every benefit of sleeping with your dog is for you. Your dog can also benefit if he’s home alone every day. Sleeping with you at night can help to alleviate the separation anxiety he may feel if you work long hours and he’s at home on his own.
When all’s said and done, you don’t really need an excuse to sleep with your dog if you both enjoy the experience and it makes you feel happy. Because happiness is what pet ownership is all about. after all.
The only times you should think twice about sharing a bed is if your dog isn’t house trained (for obvious reasons) or if you or your dog have health issues (such as allergies). In those circumstances, letting your dog sleep in the same room but in their own bed would probably be the wisest course of action.
About the Author: Emma is a professional writer and blogger, with two furry friends and a lot of pet behavioral and pet health knowledge to share. She has written for numerous big animal magazines and health sites, and is a regular contributor to The Catington Post.