Using complexity science to understand the role of co-sleeping (bedsharing) in mother-infant co-regulatory processes

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Abstract

Human infants spend most of their time sleeping, but over the first few years of life their sleep becomes regulated to coincide more closely with adult sleep (Galland et al., 2012; Paavonen et al., 2020). Evidence shows that co-sleeping played a role in the evolution of infant sleep regulation, as it is part of an ancient behavioral complex representing the biopsychosocial microenvironment in which human infants co-evolved with their mothers through millions of years of human history (Ball, 2003; McKenna 1986, 1990). This paper is a conceptual, interdisciplinary, integration of the literature on mother-infant co-sleeping and other mother-infant co-regulatory processes from an evolutionary (biological) perspective, using complexity science. Viewing the mother-infant dyad as a “complex adaptive system” (CAS) shows how the CAS fits assumptions of regulatory processes and reveals the role of the CAS in the ontogeny of mother-infant co-regulation of physiological (thermoregulation, breathing, circadian rhythm coordination, nighttime synchrony, and heart rate variability) and socioemotional (attachment and cortisol activity) development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101723
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume67
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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