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    Night Snuggles? Why Sleeping with Pets Might Be a Bad Idea

    Night Snuggles? Why Sleeping with Pets Might Be a Bad Idea

    We do love our pets. More than half of all Americans sleep with a dog or cat, says Sleep Advisor. There are good reasons: the sense of comfort and connection, the security of knowing a dog might bark to warn you of danger—and, of course, because your pet insists.


    Unfortunately, there are plenty of reasons why this is not a good idea.


    • Allergies: The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says as many as three in ten people with allergies or asthma are triggered by substances in a pet's saliva, urine, or skin. In fact, these substances accumulate instead of dissipating, so by the end of a week, your bed might be a hotbed of allergens.

    • Cleanliness: We don't like to think about it, but pets that go outside come into contact with all sorts of unsanitary stuff. Then, they track it onto the bed. It's the same with cats that use litterboxes. Having your pet on your bed is a lot like you wearing your shoes to bed.

    • Sleep quality: A Mayo Clinic study found that people who co-slept with pets woke up more often in the night, CBS News reports. What's more, sleeping on your side is the best way to reduce positional snoring, according to WebMD, but you're less likely to roll over if there's an immovable lump of pet on top of you. (Service dogs can be trained to nudge their human when he snores, reports Sleep Review, but that's another story.)

    Breaking the habit


    Even if you've decided that a petless night is the best way to improve sleep quality, it can be hard to get your cat or dog to give up that prime position right next to you. There are two keys to getting a pet to accept new sleeping arrangements: providing nice alternatives and being consistent.

    If the substitute for your mattress is a pad on the cold floor, most pets will balk. Providing a comfortable bed in the right spot will make the transition easier. Your pet's bed should, of course, be soft and comfortable, according to VetBabble, and big enough for him to stretch out on all the way. As pets get older, and joints begin to creak, a memory foam mattress provides better support.

    Locating your pet's bed in your bedroom can provide the same benefits as sharing your bed, for human and pet alike, the Mayo Clinic study found: that sense of comfort and security that comes from being together, while improving sleep quality. The Reader's Digest suggests providing a heated mattress pad for heat-seeking cats; many dogs will welcome one, as well.

    After you've created an attractive alternative to your bed comes the hard part: making the new arrangement stick. Encourage your pet onto the bed with a chew or treat. Get him to relax with a nice stroking or brushing session. Most important, reject attempts to get back on the bed with a gentle but firm “no."

    Making this transition takes time and commitment, but if it can improve sleep quality, it's worth it.

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