As a tired parent, I would do just about anything if it meant I could grab a few extra minutes of shut eye. This includes bringing my child into my bed to cure a bad dream or tend to their needs when they are sick. Even though my kids are what I consider to be "sometimes co-sleepers," I am still very aware of how their sleep habits differ on nights they bunk up with me and nights they sleep in their own bed. It is clear to me how id's sleeping habits change when they co-sleep, and the research on the subject has both supportive and surprising things to say about what I have observed.
Co-sleeping is one of those topics that has two very distinct and opposing sides, so it's important to consider both sides of the story when deciding whether or not this is a fit for your family. Because it is a decision that has to work for everyone to be executed properly. Although I never committed to full time co-sleeping, on the nights when I did allow the kids to share my room or bed, I noticed how it affected all of us during the night and into the next day.
There are both positive and negative ways co-sleeping can influence your kid's sleeping habits, so take a look at these five common findings among experts to get the big picture.
1. They Sync With You
It turns out even when you're sleeping, you're still influencing your baby. According to the website for Dr. Sears, co-sleeping pairs tend to arouse from sleep in accordance throughout the night. Although either one or both of the pair may not wake completely, when one stirred, the other stirred as well. It's pretty cool to think how connected you and your child can be, even when asleep.
2. They Can Use It As A Crutch
When co-sleeping is not an every night decision, it could become more of a problem. As Parenting magazine pointed out, when parents co-sleep to stop crying, it's what is called "reactive co-sleeping," and can become a sleep crutch. This means your child will need co-sleeping to sooth them to sleep in the future.
3. They Are Less Self-Reliant As Teens
Co-sleeping may have more benefits for younger children. As Psychology Today reported, "many preteen children don’t yet know how to be alone at bedtime and they haven’t been forced to learn." As a result, these children can tend to rely on parents for things they should be independent enough to accomplish without help.
4. They Feel More Settled
Having mama near is comforting. As James McKenna, director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame told The Bump, having the mother nearby helps a baby to settle because they feel safe, so co-sleeping helps a baby to settle at bedtime.
5. Their Sleep Could Be Shorter
More people in the bed could mean more sleep disturbances. As sleep researcher Mari Hysing of Norway’s Uni Research told Today's Parent, "[kids who co-sleep] had shorter total sleep duration during the night, and more frequent awakenings than other children.”