Sleep Sharing – Could It Make Life Easier For Your Family?
Sleep is one of the most emotive topics when you become a parent. I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for the way that sleep deprivation can make you feel. Apart from making everyday tasks seem more difficult, sleep-deprivation can actually make you feel quite depressed. There is a reason why it was used for centuries as a form of torture. It really is just that.
When you are pregnant you will hear many different forms of advice and opinions. Co-Sleeping or Sleep-Sharing is one of those topics that will come up over and over again. One person will advocate it entirely while the next will tell you to NEVER let your baby in to your bed. It can be quite overwhelming to take on these pieces of advice. In the end it is about making your own informed choice and most importantly doing what gives your family the best quality of life and the most sleep. It is a very personal choice.
In many cultures sleep sharing is almost a given. A baby is born and it is assumed that the baby will sleep next to the mother for as long as possible. It is considered to be natural and normal.
In the end it is a very personal choice, but Dr Sears makes some very logical points as to why it is actually incredibly relevant to today’s busy society. He states that as “more and more mothers, out of necessity, are separated from their babies during the day, sleeping with their baby at night allows them to reconnect” and make up for some of the lost “touch time” during the day. I have come across many women who were adamant that they would never co-sleep and in the end couldn’t have recommended it more. It is all about finding what works for you as a family. Here are some of the benefits of co-sleeping.
– Babies will generally sleep much better. According to Dr Sears your presence conveys an “It’s OK to go back to sleep” message to your baby during the many inevitable night-wakings. You are a familiar scent, sound and touch for your baby. Being close to your baby gives them a sense of comfort and the familiar making it “safe” for them to drift back off to sleep as they do not feel alone.
– Breastfeeding can become much easier. Night-time cluster feeding is a lot easier when you can simply feed your baby as you lay in bed. Anything beats having to leave your bed several times each night, right? There is a lot to be said for going to bed “for the night” knowing that you have exactly what your baby needs at all times.
– You may sleep better. If your baby is beside you it may be the case that you will sleep much sounder. Some of the reasons for this may be due to the security of knowing your baby is close to you and safe. You are also less likely to find it difficult to drift back off to sleep if you are being temporarily woken up for a quick feed or cuddle from your newborn.
– It reduces the risk of SIDS. World research has shown that babies who sleep nestled close to their parents are less likely to succumb to the tragedy of SIDS. This should not create fear in those who chose not to co-sleep though. There is always a risk no matter where you decide your baby should sleep. Thankfully the risk of SIDS is very low for all babies.
Despite the above benefits co-sleeping is not for everyone. Some babies adjust really well to sleeping in a crib. Others sleep peacefully in a co-sleeper or crib placed close to their parents. Like all things associated with becoming a new parent it is good to know the facts and make your own informed decision. What works for one family may not work for another.