How Sleeping With Your Pet Can Reduce Anxiety

Seven out of ten adults say they suffer from stress and anxiety daily. Coincidentally, these same individuals report trouble sleeping.

Anxiety directly affects our sleep quality. When we are under chronic stress, our bodies are unable to relax in order to fall asleep. That’s because our sympathetic nervous system stays in a constant state or fight-or-flight — aka our bodies constantly release neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, dopamine, and noradrenaline, all of which increase alertness (the opposite of what should happen at bedtime).

Luckily, if anxious thoughts keep you up at night, there is a natural remedy for your restlessness that involves snuggling with your fur baby. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there is scientific research that proves sleeping with your pet is actually good for your health.

For the love of pets

Did you know 98% of pet owners consider their furry friend family? And these sweet four-legged friends are more than a cute face to come home to.

A study conducted by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), found that 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that positive human-animal interaction reduces psychological stress and increase levels of oxytocin in the brain (aka the feel good or ‘love’ hormone that creates a calming effect when released).

If your stress keeps you up at night, cuddling up next to your K-9 may just be the thing that gets you to sleep.

Here’s why:

Their presence calms you.

At night, cortisol levels (the stress hormone) should naturally decrease. When you are under stress, cortisol levels stay elevated; thus, preventing you from relaxing. The good news is that oxytocin, the “love” hormone, that is released when you have a positive interaction with your pet, counteracts the effects of cortisol. Oxytocin is known for lowering your blood pressure and flooding you with the feeling of “calmness” when it’s released.

If you have had a stressful day, even the sight of your pet can relax you.

Petting them alleviates anxious thoughts.

Research shows that physical contact with you pet lowers anxiety and your blood pressure. Naturopathic physician, Brad Lichenstein, attributes this to redirecting your anxious thoughts away from yourself and focusing on your animal. Cuddling with your fur baby will help calm your nerves and racing thoughts before bed.

They make you feel safe.

By definition, anxiety is the feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. It’s not uncommon for the feeling of fear brought on by anxiety to keep you up at night. One study by the Mayo Clinic found that people who sleep with their pets actually improve their sleep quality because they feel safer and more secure. Especially for those who live alone, sleeping with your pet nearby will likely soothe feelings of unease.

If you’re not yet sold on sleeping with you pet, consider this:

Sleeping with your pet also reduces their anxiety.

It’s true. Allowing your pet to climb into bed with you causes them to experience all the same benefits humans do. Just as you need their company, they need yours too.

However, there is more than one way to bond with your pet than just sleeping in the same bed. Consider, entertaining them with a chew toy or buying them a bark box. The reality is, sleeping with your pet isn’t for everyone. If you have allergies, you’ll need to be cautious. Additionally, if you pet isn’t fully trained, you may find your sleep more disruptive than peaceful. No one wants to wake up at 3 am to the smell of an accident. If your bed isn’t an option, look into one of these indoor or outdoor doggie houses so your pet can get a good night’s sleep too.

The final tip is to make sure you have the right sleeping arrangements to experience the benefits of sleeping with your pet. Make sure have enough space to stay comfortable and undisturbed all night long.

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