Many people find it easier or even beneficial to sleep with their child. It’s fairly common to hear parents argue that their baby “hates their crib” or that their toddler “won’t sleep in their bed alone.” However, co-sleeping can lead to various negative effects, ranging from slightly irritating to potentially deadly. The following are just some of the problems that can result from co-sleeping:
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is defined as “the sudden and unexpected death of an infant under 12 months of age that remains unexplained after a review of the clinical history, complete autopsy, and death scene investigation.” (National Center for Biotechnology Information)
Although the link between co-sleeping and SIDS is still under review, recent research has shown that sharing a bed with babies results in a higher rate of SIDS. This is likely due to the increased risk of strangulation, falling, and other hazards in parents’ bedrooms.
Bed-sharing with a child may worsen anxiety
New research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine has found that co-sleeping may exacerbate symptoms of children who already have sleep issues or anxiety. In their study, they reported that “a significantly greater proportion of anxious youth compared to healthy children co-slept,” and “greater anxiety severity was related to more frequent co-sleeping.”
Sleeping alone promotes independence
In the long run, you’ll be thankful that your child learned to sleep alone. Increased dependence on other people or things to initiate or maintain sleep could lead to poorer sleep quality and more variable sleep patterns down the road. Learning to fall asleep on their own could help your child become more self-reliant and reinforce their independence.
Bed-sharing disrupts everyone’s sleep
Kids aren’t the only ones who suffer the adverse effects of co-sleeping. A 2018 study found that mothers who co-slept with toddlers that frequently woke up or moved around at night “lost an average of 51 minutes of sleep per night and had higher reported levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.”
Co-sleeping interrupts privacy and affects intimacy
For some parents, bedtime is the only time they have to talk, relax, and just be alone together. Allowing your kids to sleep with you not only interrupts your privacy but may also affect intimacy with your partner.
How Can We Help?
Our team is committed to understanding each patient’s specific needs and providing the very best sleep apnea treatments. If you think your sleep issues are becoming more serious, contact us today for a sleep study and learn how we can help you sleep better at night.