The Anatomy of Co-Sleeping

Within South Asian families, sharing a bed with family can be a common practice. But co-sleeping raises more than a few eyebrows on the internet, and in the individualistic West.

co-sleeping family
(Dinodia Photos/Alamy Stock Photo)

Somdyuti Datta Ray


September 30, 2020


8 min

In my family, the language of love is touch. One of my favorite photos from my childhood is where I’m nestled on my father’s chest as a baby, both of us asleep. It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned that there was a name for it — co-sleeping, when a parent and child sleep near one another.

I grew up sleeping next to my parents in the same bed as a teenager and an adult. So did my peers. We’ve swapped stories of whispering late into the night, reading aloud or listening to music till we fell asleep, or hiding our glowing screens under covers, our backs turned to our parents. We found comfort in the familiar.

Bed-sharing, as the habit is called, raises more than a few more eyebrows, particularly on the internet. For instance, on the question-and-answer platform Quora, discussion threads specifically address the “Indian” manner of sleeping:

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