pug resting on its back with its tongue sticking out on a bed with blue stripe sheets

What Is the Ideal Sleeping Situation for Pets?

In your bed, on the floor by your bed, in a crate, in another room—there are plenty of sleeping options for our pets. But are any of them better than the others?

Sleeping in Bed with You

Your pet may love nothing more than climbing into bed with you. They may prefer to sleep snuggled by your side, sprawled out in the middle of the bed, or all cozy at your feet. (In any case, please be sure your pet stays above the covers, so they don’t have trouble breathing.) Cats have also been known to curl up on top of their human’s head to enjoy the warmth it gives off. While these arrangements may work fine for some, they’re certainly not for everyone.

You may find having a warm and fuzzy mass in your bed lulls you into sleep. But if you’re a light sleeper and your pet tends to breathe heavy, snore, twitch, wriggle around, or get up in the middle of the night, this situation could leave you feeling exhausted in the morning. If you have a smallish bed or little kids who won’t sleep in their own rooms, you may not have room to accommodate your fur baby comfortably.

Did you know?

According to a study, people with a dog in their bedroom maintained good sleep efficiency, but sleep efficiency was lower if the dog was on the bed.

Can Sharing a Bed Make You Sick?

If you have pet allergies, it’s not a good idea for your furry friend to share your bed with you since it can make you feel unwell. If you simply can’t resist having your pet in your bedroom overnight, you can set up a bed or crate for them in the corner of the room. Just be sure you can resist caving in and inviting them up on your bed. You should also sweep or vacuum your bedroom floor regularly.

Other than allergies, it’s pretty much unheard of for a person to contract an illness from sleeping near their pets. Most pet diseases can’t be passed on to humans. However, you should definitely check your pet for fleas, ticks, and other parasites that can leave you with itchy bites or transmit health conditions, like Lyme disease.

shiba inu sleeping on a striped dog bed

Sleeping in Crates or Pet Beds

Some pets sleep better tucked into their own crates or a cozy pet bed. This is absolutely fine. For dogs, feeling safe in a crate traces back to their wolf ancestors. Wolves are den animals who would be safer and more secure in a somewhat enclosed space hidden away from dangerous predators. Where you put the crate or bed is entirely up to you—and what your pet will agree to, of course.

Sleeping Outside Crates

Crates and pet beds just don’t do it for plenty of pets. These pets may prefer to hunker down in a favorite spot every evening, like the living room couch, under the coffee table, or at the back of a closet. Other pets flop down to sleep wherever they happen to be when they feel tuckered out. This situation works well for many pets, especially if they like to move around during the night.

Cats, in particular, tend to roam and play after hours. This is a habit that hearkens back to their wild cat ancestors who would prowl at night. If your cat’s nocturnal antics are keeping you up, there are a few things you can try. For instance, you should make sure they have enough activity during the day to tire them by nightfall. You can also try giving them a small snack before bedtime to help them feel sleepy.

dog on a teal sofa next to a grey pillow

What Are Normal Sleep Noises?

Pets make all sorts of noises when they snooze. They may breathe heavy, snore, snort, cough, sneeze, grunt, whine, and even meow or bark. While most of these noises are of no concern (unless they’re keeping you up), heavy breathing, snorting, and snoring could indicate a respiratory or other health condition, especially if your pet was previously a quiet sleeper. It’s a good idea to check in with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s sleeping noises.

Pets can also make noises while they’re dreaming. Yes, our pets dream just like we do. They may also twitch and wiggle around as they chase squirrels or mice in their head. You probably shouldn’t wake your pet up when they’re dreaming even if they get noisy since it can startle or upset them. If their dream is worrying you, you can wake them up gently with some soft words and gentle pats.

How Many Hours a Day Do Dogs Sleep?

The amount of sleep your dog needs depends on their age, size, and lifestyle. Generally, healthy adult dogs sleep around 12 to 14 hours a day. Young puppies may sleep as much as 18 to 20 hours a day. Dogs who are older, have health conditions, are larger in size, or lead more active lives may also need additional ZZZs.

Dogs may need more sleep than our recommended 8 hours because they sleep in shorter stints. Those extra hours help them get the deep sleep they need to feel refreshed. Additionally, dogs are more flexible sleepers than people. They can pop up in a flash when something wakes them up, and they often have an uncanny ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime—even when they’re feeling more bored than tired.

cat sleeping at the foot of the bed next to a woman wearing striped socks

How About Cats?

Like dogs, cats sleep more than humans averaging about 12 to 16 hours a day. This time varies by age, health, and lifestyle. Kittens need more sleep than adult cats, and these little furballs can snooze around 18 to 20 hours a day.

Cats sleep so much to help them store up energy for the short bursts they need to hunt, chase, and pounce on their prey. Of course, housecats generally don’t need to worry about catching their food. Then again, you never know when those cans of gourmet food will run out.

Tips for Developing a Solid Sleep Routine

You can help set your pet up for a good night’s sleep by taking great care of your them.

  • Stick to a routine. Pets are creatures of habit and thrive when they have a solid routine. This includes maintaining a consistent walk, meal, and sleep times as much as possible.
  • Make sure they’re active. If your pet is not getting enough exercise during the day, they may not feel tired enough to lay down at night.
  • Feed them a healthy diet. Pets who are hungry may have trouble sleeping. You may want to offer your pet a small meal before bedtime, especially if they’re waking you up at night to beg for food.
  • Keep things calm around bedtime. Don’t engage in late evening roughhousing and then expect your pet to relax and go to sleep immediately. You can also play calming music to help your pet unwind.
  • Visit the veterinarian regularly. Yearly check-ups can help make sure your pet stays healthy and sleeps well.

Regular veterinary visits also give you a chance to discuss any changes in your pet’s sleeping patterns with your veterinarian.

Quick Tip

Sudden changes in sleeping behavior can indicate that your pet has an underlying health issue. If something’s medically wrong, a pet insurance plan can help you manage the costs of their care.

Go With the Flow

Keep in mind sleeping arrangements may need to change over time. I used to sleep with my cat Petunia curled up at the end of my bed every night. She made a wonderful footwarmer! As she got older, she started getting up in the middle of the night and meowing loudly for no reason. After losing quite a few nights of sleep, I realized I had to move her out of the bedroom. It took a couple of nights for her to adjust, but soon enough, we were both sleeping peacefully again.

The most important thing to remember is that where your pet sleeps is a personal decision. Do what’s best for you and your pet. You both need your beauty rest!