co-sleeping lowers testosterone in daddies

Some more co-sleeping love for ya’ll here with this new study on how co-sleeping lowers testosterone in daddies who do co-sleep (don’t mind the somewhat male-centric lingo @livescience & thanks to Inhabitots for the tip):

“…fathers who co-sleep have significantly lower levels of testosterone while sleeping, and a great decline in testosterone during waking hours too — as compared to dads who don’t co-sleep.”

Past studies (here, here, and here and plenty more to look at if you’re interested) have speculated or confirmed that high levels of testosterone may interfere with “paternal investment” or whether or not the dad gives a shit about sticking around for the baby or the momma. Lower testosterone levels doesn’t mean that his penis is going to retract upward and become a vagina, it just means that his openness and connection toward his partner (the mom) and child (the baby) increases and his “investment” in the health and well-being of the family increases.

“This [study] suggests to us that active fatherhood has a deep history in the human species and our ancestors,” study researcher Lee Gettler, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame writes. “For some people, the social idea that taking care of your kids is a key component of masculinity and manliness may not be new, but we see increasing biological evidence suggesting that males have long embraced this role.”

Perhaps putting a pinpoint on how the lowered testosterone levels actually works is difficult due to variables in the study (like the fact that upwards of 90% of the Filipino fathers in the study slept in the same room if not the same sleep-area) and that the testosterone levels upon waking were the same (or very close) despite being significantly different before bedtime.  The point isn’t to espouse the “flaws” or caveats in this study, as others have validated similar or more intriguing results, but rather to highlight that clearly there is a testosterone-based trend toward greater paternal affection and involvement as evidenced with previous studies.

Besides, daddy co-sleeping provides many other testosterone-influenced benefits like:

  • the lower the testosterone, the more likely dad is to provide child care or parenting time versus dads with higher testosterone levels
  • the lower the testosterone, the higher the involvement in parenting
  • the lower the testosterone, the more sensitive the father is to children’s needs (more sympathy, more likely to respond to cries)
  • the lower the testosterone, the higher the “investment” increasing the growth and survival opportunities of children (from *other studies on animals* assuming application in domestic humanity)

This refers specifically to testosterone levels as this is most commonly attributed to the unique quality of masculinity. Though other studies have focused on the investment of fathers (sans testosterone measurements) finding that children whose paternal influences are more nurturing and “invested” result in “greater self-esteem and socialization skills, higher academic performance, and lower delinquency.”  Obviously regardless of greater self-worth in children, a point of interest for researchers and daddies is finding out how the “male hormone” affects parenting, investment, co-sleeping et al.  As the co-sleeping researcher Gettler speculates, this finding “would lead to a redefinition of manhood:”

“If many human/hominin fathers have been actively taking care of their offspring for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, doesn’t that suggest that such behaviors should be considered a part of ‘what it means to be a man’ or manliness or masculinity?” Gettler

Not that you needed proof or help determining whether or not “manhood” as often characterized in American and other industrialized nations’ notions of male behavior that a “redefinition” (or resurgence of appropriately defined masculinity) was in order.  But more people than one might assume care about the definition of manhood and with greater numbers of dads staying at home to care for their children these days there might just be good reason to start looking into the trend.

As for this mama, I don’t give a shit if a dad has high or low testosterone as long as he’s a good partner and excellent fatherly influence. If that means their T-levels are lower than my grandpa’s then great. If it all starts with daddies and babies sleeping together, than all the better! As we pointed out previously, co-sleeping has many benefits to it like reducing the likelihood of childhood obesity but most importantly, the happier, healthier the family, the better.

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