Physical and Emotional Effects of Co-Sleeping with Children

A study of 477 parents, done by R. Mahendran, J.A. Valngankar, s. Mythily and Y.M. Cal, in Singapore Med Journal, found that 72.7% of children co-sleep with their parents. Is co-sleeping between parents and children really healthy for children, or does it damage the child and cause them to grow into fearful, dependent adults? The effects of co-sleeping with children have both good and bad long-term effects on children and parents alike.

Higher Self-Esteem and Confidence

The University of Notre Dame has done research on college students regarding parents and children sleeping together. According to research done in 1994 by M. Crawford, children who have co-slept with their parents have higher self-esteem in both boys and girls compared to children that have not co-slept with their parents. This same study also showed that children who slept with their parents also had more confidence in their daily lives. Research done by P. Heron for his thesis at the University of Bristol found that children who slept with their parents were able to handle stress better than children who slept alone.

Marital Problems

Long-term marital problems can occur with parents who co-sleep with their children. Some parents begin sleeping with their children as newborns and this continues. According to Dr. Michelle Golland with Mom Logic, if one parent is not interested in sleeping with children, or is constantly pushed to sleep on the couch because there is limited room in the bed, this can cause a rift in the marital relationship and can potentially lead to divorce down the road.

Psychological Effects

According to the University of Notre Dame, children who co-sleep with their parents often have less anxiety and are better psychologically adjusted adults. The University of Notre Dame reports that children who have co-slept with parents are well adjusted and require less psychiatric intervention than adults who never slept with their parents. This suggests that children who sleep with their parents will grow into adults that can successfully deal with stress and work through their problems without requiring psychological assistance.

University of Notre Dame: What are the Long Term Effects on my Baby of Sharing a Bed?

Mom Logic: When Should Family Sleeping Stop?: Dr. Michelle Golland

Singapore Med Journal: Co-Sleeping and Clinical Correlates in Children Seen at a Child Guidance Clinic: R. Mahendran, J.A. Valngankar, S. Mythily, Y.M.Cal: 2006 []

Ethos: Parenting Practices in the Basque Country: Implications of Infant and Childhood Sleeping Location for Personality Development: M. Crawford: 1994

University of Bristol: Non-reactive Co-Sleeping and Child Behavior: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep All Night Every Night: P. Heron: 1994