Real men don't... co-sleep? According to a recent study, dads who share a family bed with their children tend to have lower testosterone levels than other fathers. But before you change your nighttime routine, there's a little more to it than that. Hormonal changes in co-sleeping men could be turning these guys into more nurturing, loving caregivers.
To measure the effects of co-sleeping on testosterone, the principal male hormone, researchers looked at data from more than 360 fathers in the Philippines, where co-sleeping is a common practice. Checking hormones before and after sleep, researchers found that dads who dozed next to their child had a third less testosterone in the morning compared to dads who slept solo or with only another adult partner; even dads sleeping in the same room with their children showed lower testosterone levels than men who slept separately, the Huffington Post reports.
So what's the lowdown on this manliest of hormones? High testosterone levels are typically linked to aggression, extroversion, and risk-taking behavior in men, but lower testosterone levels may be connected to fathers' improved responsiveness to their children. Another study found that stay-at-home dads also see a dip in testosterone; in the current study, researchers found that even being awoken by the sound of a baby crying cut hormone levels.
This study is far from the last word on the subject, but the reaction so far from co-sleeping dads? At least one doesn't seem to mind the possibility for hormonal interference. "I believe co-sleeping can help men be more responsive and more engaged as dads. I envied the closeness that the mother enjoys with the baby, but co-sleeping helped to allay that, giving me a greater sense of connection with our children," says Derek Markham, who blogs at NaturalPapa.com.
"Plus," he adds, "there's nothing like waking up to the sweet smell of baby's breath!"
Now, that takes a real man to admit.