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Healthy Pets

Pets in Your Bed

WebMD discusses the health implications of your pets sleeping in bed with you and how you can keep the bedroom healthy.
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Snoring, Kicking, Cover-Hogging Pets

Which brings up another problem with sharing the bed with a pet -- they can disturb your sleep. A study released by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center found that about half the patients in the study had a dog or cat, and 53% of those pet owners said their pets disturbed their sleep in some way nightly.

"I’ve had patients that I’ve spent visit after visit going over their insomnia problems, trying to figure out what’s happening, then I find out they have a dog that’s scratching all night," says Lisa Shives, MD, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine, a sleep center outside Chicago,

Shives recommends that people who have difficulty sleeping consider keeping pets out of the bedroom.

Can Pets Help Sleep?

But for people with no problem falling or staying asleep, Shives says it’s fine to allow a dog or cat in the bed.

"There are all kinds of medical benefits to having a pet," says Shives, who sleeps with her 45-pound dog. "And some people might feel safer or calmer with a dog in their bed."

Candace Hunziker of Kennesaw, Ga, says that’s exactly why she sleeps with her Labrador retriever mix, P.

"She sleeps against me and she has very rhythmic breathing and it just puts me out," Hunziker says. "I have insomnia, my whole family does, and we all sleep with dogs. She puts me to sleep better than an Ambien."

What About Sex?

And then there’s the whole matter of intimacy, with a pet in the bed. Can it interfere with your sex life? That depends, say Elizabeth and Charles Schmitz, love and marriage experts who wrote "Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage."

"Many, many of our successful couples have pets and many sleep with them," Elizabeth Schmitz says.

But how they deal with the issue of intimacy varies, she says.

"Some put them outside the bedroom because they don’t want them to watch," she says. "Some give them a treat to distract them. Some don’t mind if the pet stays on the bed."

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