Co-sleeping is hazardous to your health

There’s so much talk about co-sleeping and whether it’s dangerous to the child. Well as a semi-regular reluctant co-sleeper for the past 4 years, 5 months and 15 days I can now safely say that it’s dangerous to me. Where are the stats on that, AAP? Huh? Huh?

I woke up at 3AM with my back in the most awful spasm thanks to the weight of two children and a rheumy cat on my chest. (Oh, didn’t you new parents know? The children don’t sleep next to you on the bed, the children sleep on you in the bed.)With the muscle pressing against my rib cage, breathing is now something less than a joy, to say nothing of standing, sitting, popping the zit on my forehead, and doing the Achy Breaky Heart.

I’m sure last night was just the 65-pound straw that broke the camel’s back, considering I was still on the mend from the previous night’s three-person romp in a single bed at my brother’s place. And by romp I mean I NEED TO SLEEP YOU TINY PEOPLE GET OUT OF MY BED.

And so, it’s finally happened. All the years of  co-not-sleeping over the years has added up. And it’s broken me. The kids? Oh, they’re delightfully well-adjusted. One more thing I can hold over their heads in later years.

See you on the acupuncture table.


33 thoughts on “Co-sleeping is hazardous to your health”

  1. I was totally for co-sleeping when Laurel was a baby but it just never worked for us. Not only did she inherit my sometimes, um, snorty tendencies in bed, but she's a flailer. Even a baby kick landed to the kidneys is uncomfortable.

    On the periodic occasions where she cries out with a bad dream and Jon or I crawl into bed with her, we've found her patterns persist. Regular co-sleeping is impossible for us, but at least I'm not worried about Laurel and self defense — if her uppercut is that good in her sleep, imagine what it would be like when she's awake. -Christine

  2. I am one of those mamas who has a 2 yr old on my chest. It's actually better now than the first, oh, 9 months of his life when he was so small that I had to actively hold him up there. I would wake up with my arms screaming in agony. Now it's my back, hips, and legs that ache b/c I can't move.
    But I still sleep better than I would if he was in a crib – that child STILL wakes up every 45 minutes. It's just his normal sleep cycle! We are starting to get some longer stretches when I first put him down at night – we actually got to watch a FULL 1 hr 45 minute movie this weekend!
    We were shocked.
    Anyway, I sympathize. I hope you find some relief!

  3. I hear ya! And if they aren't sleeping on you they sleep perpendicular to you, somehow hogging up the entire bed with their tiny bodies.

  4. The first two slept with me until they were four and five years old. The third baby REFUSED to sleep with anyone until she was almost two and has slept with me every night since. She wriggles her little legs under me (where they continue to wriggle throughout the night) and then in her sleep she raises her arms straight into the air and then lets them go limp, often crashing them down upon my unsuspecting face. Ahhh. How attached we are.

  5. Last night, as I struggled to lift my sleeping 5yo boy and return him to his bed, I thought, “I think I'm done with this cosleeping thing”. It was a nice ride, but then again, we have a king-size bed. Anything smaller and you're asking for a backache.

  6. My 4 year old has been sleeping with us for almost 4 years now. We have tried everything to get her to sleep by herself but she refuses. If she does actually fall asleep in her room she will somehow make it to our bed in the middle of the night.She sleeps perpendicular to us in the bed and always ends up kicking my husband out some time in the middle of the night…and we have a California King!

    I am hoping that after the fun things that she gets for Christmas, princess flashlight and princess fiber optic light that she will finally start sleeping in her own bed!

  7. The little angel doesn't sleep with us, but you know what I had to go through to achieve that. I'm not sure I recommend it.

    Although sleeping with my husband is nice.

    I think maybe parents can't win.

  8. Margot has long been out (even out of our closet even) but now Drew comes in around 3:44am – only when my husband is gone, though, so at least there's room.

    Still. Oy.

  9. Gemma is almost 4 months old and I am at a crossroads with this. I enjoy having her close but I am not sure I will feel so generous with my space when she is 2!

  10. We have established a rule of “you have to go to sleep in your own bed.” This rule at least gives me some sleep, although he is sometimes sleeping through the night. Hubby (stupidly) ignored this rule one night and it took an extra hour and a half for everyone to get to sleep.

    I remember hearing of parents who would race each other to the child's bed when the kid crawled in the parent bed. So if your kids are in a twin bed, just crawl in it.

  11. We had to kick Anya out of our bed for good when Asher was born so he could sleep with us but now Josh sleeps with her in HER bed. I wish they made a bed size bigger than King.

  12. Acupuncture rocks! It's pretty relaxing once you get over the whole needles-sticking-out-of-your-body part. At first it feels warm, and then soothing. Kudos!

  13. Good luck with the acupuncture.

    Personally, just hearing the word “co-sleeping” makes my skin crawl. None of my 4 kids were allowed to sleep in our bed. Kids in my bed = sleep deprived Momma = cranky Momma = miserable family life. I'm not good at sharing my bed…even The Husband isn't allowed to touch me while I'm sleeping.

  14. My first two didn't cosleep but they crawl in bed with me after Dad goes to work. The 3yo is a perpendicular sleeper and a kicker.

    My newborn is cosleeping and I wake up with all my muscles aching. I must be subconsciously keeping SO still that they get all stiff. I'm hoping that goes away once I get used to the arrangement.

  15. This is so funny, and so true! We are not co-sleeping, but somehow end up sleeping together 75% of the night. She seems comfortable, but I end up in the oddest positions that make my back ache for days.

  16. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

    I love co-sleeping and am so glad my Indian husband thought getting a crib was stupid and a waste of money(in our case, he was right.) So for us, co-sleeping has really worked for the best. I love having that extra snuggle time. However, my kids don't kick and they don't sleep on top of me. That could be helping things a bit! 😉

  17. yes! we finally got bunk beds last week for two, but the third still sleeps with me/us. have to say that the kicks to the head have decreased….

  18. I have been co-sleeping for 4 years, 10 months, and 2 days. And yes, it can be a literal pain in the neck. Although, I am sad to admit, I think part of that might be that I'm not getting any younger. I think I can blame my increasing decrepitude on the kids, though, so I've got that going for me.

  19. Mine made it out at about 5. She stills comes back for nightly visits.

    Ditto on your sentiments. . .we upsized teh bed to a king, but she STILL snuggles right on top of us, creating all sorts of aches and pains in the am.

  20. My first child was very sick as an infant, and initially we just moved the crib to our room so that I could keep an eye on him, and eventually he came to bed with us. I think that stopped when he was about ten months old or so.
    Then my second child was exclusively breastfed, and I was like, “What's the point in breastfeeding if I have to wake up to do it?” It took work, but eventually I was able to do it in my sleep and we slept like that until I decided the boob was keeping HER up at night (It was like she just sensed it was there, and she was a booby baby)… She was waking up at least every two hours to nurse until she was ten months old at which point I banished her from the bed to her crib. Amazingly enough, she started sleeping through the night in a matter of days and has ever since.
    Personally, I didn't mind the co-sleeping too much. But my husband HATED sleeping on the couch. 🙂

  21. ARGH! Cut them off, Dude! Sharing a queen-sized bed with my husband is hard enough. Both of my kids were kicked the eff out by 6 months old. And in addition to being hazardous to my health via similar muscle spasm situations, it was hazardous to my marriage. Because face it, no matter how crafty, quiet, or nimble you are, having sex when a baby's in your bed is just not worth it.

  22. It's so true that they sleep on you! The worst is when my almost 3 year old sleeps perpendicular with her head on of us and her feet kicking the other.

    Add the baby, the dog and half the time the cat too, and I'm thanking God we've got a king-sized bed.

  23. Thanks for shedding light on this lesser known disorder. I too am a sufferer.

    It always amazes me how my kids can sprawl out and single handedly take over a king size bed.

    So, you gonna start a support group?

  24. We co-sleep and I can so relate. Even on nights it's just Ivy & me, in our huge King bed, I get maybe 9 inches to sprawl out for myself. I'm not ready for Ivy to be out of my bed but like Julie, I've made the older kids sleep on
    my floor if they must… so they usually just go back to their own beds.


  25. So true…the kids are fine. They feel loved and secure. The mothers, oh the poor mothers…I remember those painfully tired days before big girl bed became the norm.

    Even still, at 12…she wants to sneak in and “get cozy.”

  26. I flat out refuse. Then again, I haven't had a decent night's sleep in 2 years. My 3 1/2 yr old has no interest, but my 2 year old daughter? All she wants is to strap herself across my chest. It was sweet at 10 lbs, not so much at 30.

    Good luck to you.

  27. We had our big boy sleep in a co-sleeper cot until he was 4 months old. It was very nice to hear him breathing but not worry that we were going to roll over on him.

    But I never could sleep in same bed with him because we're both the lightest sleepers in the world (darn it). Nowadays I find myself aggravated and kinda saddened by the co-sleeper dogmatics who guilt other mothers about not co-sleeping (which you all are thankfully avoiding here, gracias). Or those who insist that tribal mothers in Africa co-sleep so shouldn't we. Um, hello, cross-cultural comparisons aren't always sound.

    The thing is, I happen to be apt to be operating heavy machinery (namely a car) during some of my waking hours and I'd like to not be sleep-deprived when I do it. I think I am making the world (or at least here in Asia, where we now live) a safer place by being better rested. Yes.

  28. Will people throw things at me if I say I love co-sleeping? Maybe I bend well. I don't know, but I've loved it with all four kids and if they made a giant bed where we'd all fit I'd let the big kids climb in a lot of the time with us too. They still want to, which makes me smile too. 🙂

  29. I get the occassional co-sleeping when a child is ill, has a bad dream, etc., but I refuse to buy the argument that because a child “refuses or won't sleep in his or her bed” parents should allow this behavior indefinitely. I'd assume these same parents don't let their kids hit other children or cotton to other bad behaviors– why the inability to put your foot down here? Kick the kids out of your bed, put up with the comparably short transition period that will inevitably come with a lot of crying and whining and rejoin the ranks of people who sleep better and longer–to say nothing of what it does for a marriage not to have small pointy elbows between you. This doesn't have to be a multiyear struggle. You can get your life and your sleep back without losing any closeness with your kids, you just have to make the decision to do it and stick with it.

  30. Thank you Jenna for having all the answers. I totally forgot that cosleeping is comparable to the physical assualt of another child. Now, armed with that knowledge, it's a whole new ballgame!

  31. our pediatrician a long time ago suggested we make a “dog bed” (her phrase) for any bad-dream child…so we have a crib mattress on the floor in the bedroom and if/when there are bad dreams, the bad dreamer comes in and flops down on the mattress. I tell them that there are no bad dreams in mommy and daddy's room (HAHAHAHA) but that mommy and daddy need their sleep, so they have to be super secret quiet when they come in. And it works, actually: they tiptoe in, flop down and sleep, and I SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. Until Husband begins to snore, but that's a comment for another time.

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