Infant-parent co-sleeping in an evolutionary perspective: implications for understanding infant sleep development and the sudden infant death syndrome

Sleep. 1993 Apr;16(3):263-82. doi: 10.1093/sleep/16.3.263.


Evidence suggests that infant-parent co-sleeping represents the species-wide pattern of sleep in which human infant physiology evolved. The hypothesis evaluated in this manuscript is that the co-sleeping environment may foster development of optimal sleep patterning in infants and confer other benefits, including reducing the risk of the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). These postulations by McKenna are considered from different perspectives by the coauthors. Using evolutionary, cross-species, crosscultural, physiological and behavioral data, our objective was to present a conceptual framework for assessing the developmental consequences of solitary sleeping and infant-parent co-sleeping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Obstruction / complications
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*
  • Male
  • Object Attachment
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Rats
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Sudden Infant Death* / epidemiology
  • Sudden Infant Death* / etiology