It’s a new season — HELLO, SPRING! — and getting a good night’s sleep in the midst of the weather shift, longer daylight hours, and everything else going on in the world can be difficult. BUT, if you have a furry friend, a cuddly critter in your life, you may have just found yourself one of the most fantastic natural sleep and relaxation aids on the planet.
Snuggling and sensing
It probably comes as no surprise that laying around with your pet gives you a feeling of comfort and relaxation. It’s a great way to alleviate the stress from the day, slow your heart rate and just calm down. Your animals also respond to your cuddle, letting you know they’re there for you unconditionally, which makes a huge difference in your emotional well-being. Someone loves me totally and completely, no matter whether I clean up the kitchen or remember their birthday? Thank you!
Going to sleep at night, however, can be a whole different thing for many people. If you live alone or if your significant other is not home when you are going to bed, you can become anxious and a little nervous. Pets in the bed or even just in the bedroom have been shown to lower that anxiety, their mere presence validation that you’re not alone and you’re taken care of. By simply being near, your PBF (pet best-friend) helps you sleep better.
Good for your body
Let’s forget for a moment that we’re in Sleep Month and this is all about how to get your snooze on. When you have an animal in your life — and for these purposes we’re talking more along the lines of dogs and possibly cats — you tend to exercise more. Walks, playtime — most pets need some sort of activity to keep their attention from going in twenty different directions and stop them from basically ripping up your furniture, eating your clothes and shoes, and stealing food from the kitchen. Don’t believe us? Watch any number of YouTube videos featuring pet antics.
Even if you don’t have a pet that requires walking, playing or the like — snakes, hamsters, frogs, birds — engaging with them lowers your blood pressure. It’s true. By taking the time to spend loving on your animal, you are caring for yourself. Your happiness levels rise and that means your stress levels go down and we all know how anxiety and stress can just mess with our health. So, imagine, you’re watching the fish in your fish bowl, gazing at their beauty as they swim, feeling your heart rate go down, your mind slow and you begin to feel relaxed and at ease. That runs through your whole body and makes a huge difference in your overall well-being.
That’ll do, PBF (pet best-friend).
If you own a pet, you probably know all of this instinctively already. If you’ve been considering one, maybe this helps you decide. By the way, we’re not saying what you should or should not do, actually, but we’re pet people across different animals — dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, etc. In our experience, we’ve discovered that spending time with them, holding them when we’re blue, playing with them, going on runs together or taking walks (yes, even with the cats, rabbits and birds, honestly) brightens our lives. We all need a little something to take the edge off and help us sleep sometimes. How cool is it that one of the best natural ways of doing that is simply hanging out with your pet?
Tell you a quick story, then I’ll let you go. I have two dogs — my 11 year-old Black Lab Border Collie mix named Moon and my 7 year-old Shi-Poo (Shih Tzu Poodle mix) named Lumi — Finnish for “first snow.” Moon I’ve had since she was 10 weeks old and Lumi for a little over a year. Both are rescues and they are as much a part of our family as us humans are for each other — I also have two sons.
The other night, I was pretty stressed. Lots going on out there in the world and things are kind of in flux. I got into bed and, as usual, both my pups joined me curled up on the covers. This time, however, Lumi curled near my leg and Moon curled beside my waist, her head laying on my belly. It was like they knew I needed them closer than usual, needed them near. I was finally able to relax, to let go, to just sleep and feel at peace and I woke up feeling better than I had in a long time. When the alarm went off to feed them both, they jumped up as always, sat patiently while I put their food down and went about their day, their work done for the moment. That consistency, that continued “dogness” of them both also made it possible for me to take a deep breath and feel okay.
They just know, ya know? Your pets. They feel it when you need them and they’ll be there. That loyalty and devotion makes it easier to rest, to relax and to go about your life. And when night falls, it makes sleep that much deeper and feel more secure. It’s a wonder and we all need a little wonder.