LOS ANGELES -- Cuddling with cats and dogs at bedtime may bring comfort to many pet lovers, but is it really a good idea?
Two months ago, when Kylia Clark of Glendale met her dog, Bella, they just clicked.
"I don't really believe in love at first sight, but I believe in it when it comes to dogs. So I just knew," she said.
But at night, Bella snuggles so much, she tends to crowd out her human companion.
"She'll get even closer to me, and so then it does almost kick me out of the bed a little bit," Clark said. "So I really shouldn't still allow her to sleep in bed with me, but I do."
But why? Because studies show pets help ease anxiety, depression and reduce stress levels.
"I really liked having her there. I just felt safer. I felt more secure having her with me," she said.
It might be comforting at night to have your dog by your side, but doctors say it shouldn't come at the cost of your sleep, which doctors say is important to your overall health.
"You want to get continuous sleep. You want to have good quality and quantity of sleep. You want to get to the deep stage of sleep and REM sleep," said Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a pulmonary and sleep medicine specialist at Keck Medicine of USC.
He said nearly half of American pet owners say they sleep with their pets.
Many of those same people report sleep disruptions. Because of his dog Clifford, Dasgupta can relate.
"He does the full body shake, and next thing you know, we all wake up," he said.
Seven hours of sleep is what your brain needs. If you're not able to get that, the solution depends on you and your pet.
"I think if you're duking it out for supremacy in a tiny bed with a big dog, that may not be the perfect combo for you," Dasgupta said.
Maybe you need separate sleeping areas or maybe you just need a bigger bed.
In time, Clark hopes she and Bella will find a way to get a solid night's rest.
"Our dogs mean the world to us, but we need to also pay attention to what we need to and making sure that we put that first," she said.