Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
169
Bed-Sharing and Evolution #3
January 4, 2024

Found in age groups

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

Blog Posts 15, based on the United States of America Department of the Army Field Manual: Holistic Healing and Fitness, describe what really matters for your child’s sleep. If sleep is an important enough topic for national defense than surely sleep should be considered a serious topic for parenting!

Blog 169Bed-Sharing and Evolution #3

Today, a fundamental problem might occur when a mother sleeps with her newborn at night to maintain close contact: If the mother’s bedtime is too late for her baby’s biologic sleep-wake rhythm, the result might be unhealthy sleep for the baby because the bedtime is biologically too late for the baby’s circadian sleep rhythm. The too late sleep schedule might cause difficulties for the baby to easily fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. In other words, infants biologically still need an early bedtime, but the adult caretaker (usually the mother) might comfortably stay up later in the evening. This may lead to a bedtime that is too late for the infant, especially under the circumstances when the mother chooses to sleep with her baby at night.

Within a given Western country there are differences among parents regarding bed-sharing (Blog Posts 163165). Between different Western countries, there are differences in how children sleep (Blog Post 101). Compared to Western countries, in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries or cultures, late bedtimes are common (Blog Posts 14 and 88) but it is not known whether the late bedtimes are specifically associated with bed-sharing. Even in non-Western countries, when late bedtimes are moved earlier (Blog Post 111), both the child and the mother benefit.

More reading:

Blog Post 52 discusses sleeping through the night.

Blog Post 82 discusses bed-sharing during the first 6 months.

Blog Post 95 discusses sleep transitions during the first 6 months.

Blog Post 99A discusses benefits of early bedtimes IG reels

Blog Post 112 discusses circadian sleep rhythms.

Blog Post 123 discusses why late bedtimes harm the child.

Blog Post 167: “Thus, there is not yet enough evidence to support or refute the primary message of the supporters of bed-sharing, which suggests that bed sharing is an evolutionary meaningful and natural practice with several benefits to the infant and mother.”

(To be continued)

Comments

  1. Dear Dr Weissbluth,

    I hope you are well. Sorry that this comment does not relate to your post above.

    I however would like to ask if you would ever consider writing a blog on the importance of the sleep space, or associations one has with that, if even. Alternatively just a response to my question here would help me a great deal.

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately, since I started the habit of reading before bed in order to help wind down for a good nights rest, as apposed to watching the television to wind down after a long day.

    However, I always find myself asking, where is the best place to do this reading? Should I read in my bed before going to sleep, or should I read in the living room and then retire to the bedroom once the reading is done?

    I have the same question regarding my one year old daughter, but it is a slightly different scenario. Since she was a baby, I never placed toys in her room or let her play in her room, as I want to keep her bedroom a place that she associates with sleeping only, and not playing. She does have soft toys in her room, but these are calming and do not excite her. Is all this effort worth it? Does it really have an impact or can I let her play in her room. Currently all her toys are in the living room and that is where she plays.

    Another element I have tried to incorporate into her routine, now that it is summer hers in RSA, is to let her play outside in the garden for at least 15mins before her nap times. I would also like to know if this worth the effort, does the space and activities you do during your wake time assist with sleep? For example does getting some sun and fresh air help her to fall asleep easier and does my reading before bed help me to fall asleep easier?

    These questions have been on my mind, I am not sure if you have already answered them in a blog post or in your book, which I have read by the way. We have implemented so much from your book on our daughter and we are truly thankful for the wonderful impact it has had on our family.

    Happy new year!

    Kind regards,
    Lorraine

    1. For you, read pages 325-327 to understand why your reading in bed might, or might not, be an issue. All screens should be avoided for at least an hour before the expected falling asleep time.
      For your daughter, although there is no data, my impression (based on pages 325-327) is that her bed (or crib/cot) should be used only for sleeping but that playing in her room would not be a problem. Anything (fresh air, sunshine, bathing, etc.) that is relaxing/calming before an expected sleep time will help make the transition to sleep easier. Does this help?
      By the way, where is “RSA”? Chicago is freezing!

  2. Hi Dr Marc,

    We are based in Cape Town, South Africa and enjoying the sun after a very long and cold winter!

    Thank you for your response to my question(s). This was really helpful. I managed to read the suggested pages and also shared it with my husband as he struggles to fall asleep at night.

    I am just about to do my evening reading before bedtime and have decided to do it in the living area based on the recommended reading, so thanks for that.

    I will most definitely consider letting my daughter play in her room from now on, since it is only her crib that should be avoided outside of sleep times. This clarification helps a lot and opens up new possibilities for play for her as she has a very lovely room and loves to spend time there. I usually limit her time there, but now can do so without worrying that it will disturb any sleep associations she may have with the space.

    Thanks for the help and for all that you do. We are a very well rested family and that it thanks to you!

    Kind regards,
    Lorraine

    1. You are welcome. Please consider writing a narrative report of your sleep journey and post it her so that I may use it as Blog Post (anonymously). Your voice might resonate with other mothers more than mine.

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