When it comes to co-sleeping, everyone loves to list a whole bunch of ways it could affect your child's mental health and well-being, but nobody talks about the ways co-sleeping helps with your mental health. Although kicks to the face from tiny footed pajamas may be uncomfortable, co-sleeping may be giving you some major internal benefits.
Co-sleeping is one of those parenting decisions that totally triggers everyone's expertise. Everybody loves to tell you that your baby will never learn to sleep on their own, that you're going to have a ton of issues with your kid, and that no one in the family is going to have a good night's sleep. Turns out, co-sleeping isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of issue. Although some people may find that co-sleeping works for them, there are no absolutes on what will happen if you and your family decide to take this route. Like all parenting decisions, it varies from family to family.
Dr. Craig Canapari, director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center, noted that co-sleeping is fine for any family as long as everyone is getting "good enough" sleep. That means you, your partner, and your children should all be waking up feeling well-rested. If that's not happening, then it's time to give it up. But you may find that your co-sleeping arrangement is doing more than getting you extra sleep, it's also providing you with these five mental health benefits. You may not get as many covers as you'd like, but if you can lower your anxiety risks, then why not slide over and make room for your babes?
1. You Feel More In Tune With Your Child's Needs
There are few things more stressful than being a parent and having no idea what your child wants or needs. But co-sleeping can eradicate that issue. According to an article from Attachment Parenting International, many parents that co-sleep report feeling more sensitive to their child's needs and wishes and can understand their baby's patterns better throughout the day as well.
2. You Rid Yourself Of The Bedtime Stress
If you know that feeling of dread that washes over you around 6:30, then you've probably stressed yourself out over bedtime before. According to The Guardian, one survey found that bedtime was considered the most stressful part of a parent's day. But KellyMom noted that co-sleeping with your baby can eliminate that stress so that you can feel more relaxed in the evenings, enjoy bedtime, and feel more attached to your kid.
3. It Reduces Your Risk Of Developing Mental Illnesses
In a roundabout way of course. The Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory noted that co-sleeping means you, as a parent, will get more sleep overall. Less night wakings, less waking up for breastfeeding, and you can get your little one back to sleep faster when they sleep with you. According to Harvard Medical School, more sleep means you have a reduced risk of developing mental illnesses.
4. It Reduces Your Anxiety Over Your Baby's Well-Being
Ever found yourself unable to sleep? Are you constantly watching the monitor to see if your baby is OK? Do you get up several times a night to check on their breathing? This sounds like the lead-up to an infomercial, I know, but co-sleeping can take away that anxiety. The Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame noted that when babies and mothers sleep in close proximity, a mother can sense her child's physiology and act as a buffer to any environmental hazards that might impact your little one's breathing, heart rate, and more.
5. You Feel More Calm & Relaxed
KellyMom noted that co-sleeping means more frequent and easier breastfeeding throughout the night. Although that sounds like it would be exhausting, because your baby is right there next to you, it actually means you'll get more sleep than you originally thought. But that extra breastfeeding also benefits you in another way — it can help you feel calmer, more relaxed, and more loving towards your baby. According to Dr. Sears, the same hormones present when breastfeeding can cause a tranquilizing affect on you which can make you feel more relaxed and sleep better.