Symbiotic Sleep

For 9 months, we carry our children inside us. All of their needs are met by our bodies, and while many describe the relationship as being parasitic in nature, it is actually symbiotic. Mothers also benefit from pregnancy. Besides the joy of experiencing our children grow and move around inside, hormones associated with pregnancy lower a woman’s risk of certain cancers, such as ovarian and breast cancers. Of course, we are also ensuring that our genes are carried forward by future generations — the biological goal of every species.

This symbiotic relationship doesn’t end with birth, however. It continues with breastfeeding, which also lowers a woman’s risks of cancer and later onset of osteoporosis, while giving our children the best start in life. As one would expect, this symbiotic relationship we have with our children is not limited to working hours; it continues day and night.

While the environment has changed for certain cultures in the recent past, our biological need for a symbiotic relationship remains. The benefits of co-sleeping are well documented for both child and parents.

  • Better, more peaceful, sleep for everyone. The mention of better sleep with co-sleeping families usually focuses on the greater ease of breastfeeding. When mother and child are next to one another, no one has to get up to go get the baby to nurse or bottle feed. However, there is a deeper reason for better sleep among co-sleeping families. Multiple individuals in close proximity will naturally synchronize with one another. Corresponding sleep cycles result in mothers who are in tune with their child, automatically sharing cycles without abruptly waking from amidst a deep sleep cycle.
  • Worldwide research shows a dramatic decrease in SIDS among children who sleep in close proximity with their parents. These children typically sleep on their backs or sides, lowering their risk of death. Increased CO2 levels stimulate breathing. Eighty percent of the world cosleeps in some form; those countries where co-sleeping is the norm have the lowest (or nonexistent) SIDS rates, ensuring the survival of our genes.
  • Safer sleep. Sleeping next to a parent helps infants and children to regulate body temperature, heart rates, and breathing. In the event of an emergency (health, natural disaster, or other threat), parents are able to quickly act. Parents can sleep better, knowing that their children are at less risk in a safe co-sleeping environment.
  • Attached children gain a healthier independence, are more secure, have better self-worth, and have more control over their actions, resulting in a better environment, and easier relationship, for all parties. Co-sleeping helps parents who may be away from children during the day to better connect during sleep. Human touch and sleep interactions help individuals bond, even while they sleep.

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This post was originally published at Living Peacefully with Children for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Carnival hgosted by Monkey Butt Junction.

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Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, are nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis, or courses of treatment.

About The Author: Mandy

My NPN Posts

Mandy O'Brien is an unschooling mom of five. She's an avid reader and self-proclaimed research fanatic. An active advocate of human rights, Mandy works to provide community programs through volunteer work. She is a co-author of the book Homemade Cleaners, where simple living and green cleaning meet science. She shares a glimpse into her life at Living Peacefully with Children, where she writes about various natural parenting subjects and is working to help parents identify with and normalize attachment parenting through Attachment Parents Get Real.

One Response to Symbiotic Sleep

  1. Su

    Whenever anything is wrong with my toddler (like if she’s getting sick) it shows first in her sleep. I would miss those early cues if we didn’t cosleep!

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