When it comes to how your family sleeps best, you may have to riff on the rules a little. If neither co-sleeping nor bed-sharing seem to be a perfect fit for you and your little one, you can customize the concept to make it work how you like. By putting your own spin on things, modified co-sleeping may just be the answer to everyone getting a solid night of shut eye. But what does modified co-sleeping do to your brain that helps you snooze harder, better (faster, stronger)? Aside from allowing you to feel completely in control, it makes it possible to have a special connection with your little one that you won't experience when sleeping in separate rooms.
Modifying your co-sleeping arrangement can look different for everyone. Some may choose to simply room share by having the baby in the sleep in their own area but in the adult bedroom. Others may alternate between bringing baby into the parental bed on some nights and keeping them in a bassinet on mom's side of the bed on other nights. It all comes down to what makes you feel the most comfortable and promotes a good night sleep for the whole family.
The magic that happens between a mother and child when co-sleeping isn't as much about the way the co-sleeping is done, it's springs from being close to one another while sleeping, no matter what that looks like. As Dr. Williams Sears explained on his website, research shows that mothers and baby's sync their breathing when they co-sleep, as well as be in harmony throughout the night by sleeping, waking, and being restless at the same times. Even when your body is on autopilot, your brain is staying engaged with your baby and her needs while you're in dreamland.
It could be that knowing your baby is only an arm's length away puts some worries to rest and allows your brain to fulfill one of it's primary tasks as a parent. As the website for the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame University explained, the proximity of parents to infants when sleeping enhances the ability to socially and psychologically "attach" to one another. Having this closeness also lessens any stress of breastfeeding, since you won't need to go in another room to nurse your little one, as What To Expect pointed out.
Without consciously trying, your brain is connecting to and protecting your baby when you practice modified co-sleeping. Not only are you doing co-sleeping your way, you're forming a bond with your child that will be the foundation of your relationship. Having your little one nearby at night can make a difference in more ways than one, and may provide some of the sweetest moments you'll recall in the years to come.