Is there anything better than laying your head down in bed at the end of a long day and feeling your precious pup crawl into bed next to you? That moment when they curl up by your feet is enough to make anyone squeal with delight — but, of course, dogs aren't exactly the best sleeping companions. They snore, they move around, and TBH, sometimes they're kind of smelly. But the health benefits of sleeping with your dog beside you are pretty legit; in fact, there's plenty of research to back them up (more on that in a bit).
According to Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, as long as you and your dog are both healthy, "sleeping with your pup can actually be good for you," he tells Elite Daily over email. He admits that some people may experience a decline in their sleep quality, but at the same time, some research has shown that sharing your bed with your dog can actually trigger feelings of relaxation. In addition to releasing the feel-good, bonding hormone oxytocin, cuddling with your canine can also lower your heart rate, as shown in a 2015 study published in the journal Anthrozoös.
What's more, Backe tells Elite Daily, Australian researchers have discovered that your heartbeat can actually sync up with your dog's, which can help reduce stress for both of you. Too cute, right?
"This ultimately has a profound impact on your sleep, since it promotes theta brainwaves, which occur during deep meditation and the REM stage," Backe says. In other words, why trek all the way to your yoga class when you can just take a quick nap with your pup and reap most of the same benefits? At least, that's how my brain works, anyway.
Aside from some of these science-based benefits, Erin Askeland, CBCC-KA, a pet behaviorist, training manager, and#GiveAFetch pet expert for Camp Bow Wow, makes a great, yet admittedly obvious point about why you should let your dog snuggle up in bed with you from time to time: "First of all, snuggles all the time," she tells Elite Daily over email. "It offers comfort and security, and warmth on cold nights."
But the benefits aren't just yours to enjoy; cuddling with your dog all night, says Askeland, might help your pooch with restlessness, barking, or other behaviors that may happen at night if your dog is alone.
That all being said, there are definitely some drawbacks to inviting your dog into bed with you.
According to Jessa Paschke, a behavior and training specialist at Mars Petcare, even though your dog may want to sleep in your bed, it’s usually best for pets to have a spot of their own. "Providing a sheltered, safe space for your pet, such as a crate during the night, provides a comforting place for dogs to sleep," she tells Elite Daily over email. "Anxious dogs may want to curl up with you, but really, what they need is something soothing to help with adjustment."
For example, Paschke says, if you decide to set your pup up with their own sleep area, try to play calming music around them throughout the night, particularly the kind that's specifically designed for dogs. She also recommends diffusing some relaxing essential oils such as lavender and vetiver, which she says can help soothe an anxious pup.
And as for yourself and your own quality of sleep, Chris Brantner, a certified sleep science coach at SleepZoo.com, tells Elite Daily that, while it may be tempting to fall asleep next to your cute canine, "regularly sleeping with your pet can cause problems." Even small dogs or cats, he says, can manage to take up an entire bed, thus disrupting your sleep cycle.
Ultimately, there's no real right or wrong here, guys. If you're really torn, talk to both your own doctor and your pup's vet about the situation and see what they have to say. For now, I think I'm still letting my pup under the covers. I can't resist those eyes, OK!?