Sharing the bed with kids or pets can be really great. Some parents say that co-sleeping helps them bond with their kids — and there’s even some evidence that sleeping with pets can lower stress. But of course, sharing a bed with littles ones, human or furry, isn’t always pleasant and can sometimes lead to sleep deprivation. If kicking kids and pets out of the bed isn’t a realistic option for you, there are some simple ways you can improve your sleep quality — even with them taking up the whole bed.
1. Get a King-Size Mattress
If you’ve got kids or pets hogging the bed, then the obvious solution is to get a bigger mattress. Yes, it’s an investment — but it’s worth it if you’ll get a better night’s sleep while there’s a dog at your feet, a cat on your pillow, and a kid stretched sideways across the bed.
We like the Bear Hybrid for co-sleeping with kids and pets for a couple of reasons: 1) like all of our mattresses, it comes in both King and California King sizes to suit any family’s needs; and 2) the pocket coils and enhanced edge support reduce motion transfer, so you won’t get woken up as easily when your toddler tosses and turns or your pet jumps on and off the bed.
2. Turn On a Sound Machine
Maybe your kid talks in his or her sleep or your dog whimpers and whines during midnight storms. A sound machine can help prevent those sorts of noises from waking you and everybody else up. We find white noise works best because it’s good at masking other sounds, but relaxing, ambient noise like rainfall or ocean waves can help, too.
3. Use a Mattress Protector
Okay, this tip won’t help you get a better night’s sleep per se — but it will give you peace of mind about any potential kid- or pet-induced damage to your mattress. The waterproof Bear Mattress Encasement acts as a barrier against stains and liquid damage, as well as dust mites, bacteria, and allergens. It’ll keep your mattress safe from pet dander, dog (and kid) slobber, bed wetting, and more.
4. Keep Pets Above the Covers
Even if you use a mattress protector, we don’t recommend allowing pets under the covers. For one, it gets dirt and dander in your bedding, which means more laundry for you. But having a hot, hairy animal under the covers can also make it harder to sleep soundly. We like putting a spare sheet or towel at the end of the bed for our pets — it’s easier to remove for regular washing and it gives us a little more space to sleep.
Another tip: Keep a pet-specific bed on the floor somewhere in the bedroom in case your pet gets overheated or restless in the middle of the night and needs another place to lay down.
5. Set Boundaries
The best tip for getting better sleep when you share the bed with kids and pets? Set boundaries. This includes everything from establishing certain areas of the bed where your pet or child can sleep to not allowing stuffed animals or toys in the bed (you don’t need anything else taking up even more space!). Figure out what rules work for your family, and then stick to them. This will help everyone — not just you — get a better night sleep in the family bed.
Note: While it’s okay to sleep with fur babies and toddlers 12 months or older, both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend sharing a bed with infants for their safety. However, placing a bassinet or crib next to your bed is a safe and recommended practice.