Mother-infant bed sharing is associated with an increase in infant heart rate

xcluded from the study. All the infants were full-term and between 11 and 15 weeks old.

Each mother-infant pair slept the first or "adaptation" night in the sleep laboratory in their routine home condition. Subsequently, pairs spent one night in their routine condition and one night in the other sleeping condition, in random order. The three-night protocol allowed a 2x2 repeated-measures statistical analysis (ANOVA). The within-subject comparison was between the bed sharing night and the solitary night for both groups, allowing an assessment of the acute or immediate effects, while the across-subject comparison was between routine bed sharers and routine solitary sleepers on both nights to assess long-term, possibly developmental, effects.

This study involved standard polysomnographic paper recordings (i.e. EEG, eye movement, and muscle activity) and sleep stage scoring. The variables tested were median heart rate and the interquartile range of heart rate, as a measure of variability. Separate analyses were performed for data from awake, two categories of non-REM (quiet) sleep and REM sleep.


Mother-infant bed sharing affected heart rate and variability in a state-specific manner. ANOVA analyses showed a significant night effect where heart rate during bed sharing was higher than during solitary sleeping in all sleep stages but not waking. There were no significant long-term effects (routine bed sharers vs. routine solitary sleepers) or interactions between group and night in any sleep/wake state. On average, compared to the solitary night, heart rate on the bed sharing night was 8.8 percent higher in light non-REM sleep, 9.2 percent higher in deep non-REM sleep and 5.5 percent higher during REM sleep. Regression analysis of heart rate with the other physiological and behavioral variables affected by bed sharing in these same infants suggest that changes in body temperature may be a factor in the higher heart

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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