A new Danish study suggests that young children who sleep with their parents may have a lower risk of being overweight.
Are you regularly awoken by your young son or daughter sliding into bed with you in the night? Ever wonder about whether to break this nighttime habit? Well, if you were ever worried about childhood obesity, it may be that your nocturnal sneaker may be onto a good thing.
In a new Danish study, presented May 8 at the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, researchers suggested that children who regularly sleep with their parents after awakening in the night may have a lower risk of becoming overweight.
The researchers included nearly 500 children aged 2 to 6 who had a higher risk of being overweight because of high birth weight or because their mothers were overweight before becoming pregnant or were poor.
They collected the children’s body mass index measurements along with information about their sleeping habits, including whether they slept in their parents’ beds and, if so, how often.
What they found surprised them, given the association between low sleep quality and obesity. The children who awoke in the night and were allowed to sleep in their parents’ bed—even occasionally—had a 50 percent lower likelihood of being overweight than those who didn’t slip into bed with their parents.
Those who slept in their parent’s bed every night compared to those who never did had a 70 percent reduced likelihood of being overweight. The researchers attributed their findings to the possibility that kids who sleep with their parents may feel more safe and secure, leading to more confidence and less likelihood of obesity.
More safe and secure
Children who weren’t allowed to sleep in their parents’ bed may suffer “negative psychosocial responses, such as feelings of rejection when not being allowed to enter their parents’ bed, [which] may lead to overweight,” said Nanna Olsen, MD, one of the Danish researchers.
Infants should still sleep alone
The Canadian Pediatrics Association still recommends that infants sleep independently to minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
Though clearly preliminary, the Danish research findings do seem to offer a good reason to budge over the next time your little one nudges into your warm bed.