a woman hugging a dog

Puppy Dreams: Pets + Insomnia

Last updated: September 2022

Four years ago, we got a puppy. We brought him home at 8 weeks old, and it was in many ways like having a newborn. He was crate trained but had to learn to sleep alone, to alert us to needing to go to the bathroom, to explore his new home, to play, to not damage the furniture, etc. Suffice it to say, he kept us on our toes and even took away a bit of our sleep in the early days. Now, our puppy is also my comfort pet for insomnia.

Comfort pets for insomnia

Our dog is the sweetest, kindest four-and-a-half-year-old who sleeps in our bed and often naps there too.

Last night as I lay awake in bed, I felt him stir beside me. It made me think about how even though he's asleep, I'm so glad he's there beside me. Sometimes petting him feels reassuring. Sometimes it's just the weight of his body against mine. Other times it's the doggy kisses that remind me I'm not alone.

Is this weird?

But sometimes, I feel really jealous of my dog. Is that totally weird to you?

Let me explain – my dog falls asleep whenever he wants, wherever he wants. Sometimes during the day, he naps in a doggy bed beside my desk, and on the weekends he prefers to be in my lap when I'm at home.

But, he doesn't seem to struggle with falling asleep. He closes his eyes, and shortly thereafter, his rhythmic breathing syncs and lets me know he's gone to dreamland. Sometimes, he has puppy dreams and makes sounds or moves his legs in a way that reminds me he's fast asleep, and I'm wide awake.

Puppy protection and love

My dog was my first baby, and he's become incredibly in sync with me over time. He knows intuitively when I'm sick, when I'm upset, or when I'm struggling with anxiety. He says close, always, and even though he only weighs 9 pounds, he thinks he's my protector. (Don't tell him that it's not quite true!)

He reminds me to have fun, to relax, that snuggling is of critical importance and priority, and that self-care needs to start with the basic tenants of water, food, bathroom, sleep, play, and love.

Pet lessons

In general, I think we could all learn a lot from our pets.

But what I've learned, specifically, is that insomnia can be really lonely. Before we got our dog, I lived with my husband. But he has no problem sleeping – ever. I've written before about what it's like to be the insomniac wife of a deep sleeping partner. It always has a way of making me feel extra vulnerable when I'm awake in the middle of the night. Honestly, my dog really helps with that.

Ollie is my faithful companion, midday and midnight. While occasionally I'm jealous of his deep and frequent sleeps, I'm more grateful than ever that he's beside me when I can't sleep. He brings me comfort and makes me feel less alone.

If you have a pup, a cat, or another pet that brings you joy or comfort during your struggles with insomnia, I'd love to hear about them below!

Please share a comment (or even a selfie with your pet) below.

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