by Ewa Nowogorski
No, I don’t mean in a weird way. Stop thinking indecent things. Japanese people want to sleep with their children in the same room, and those children think in the same way, according to some recent studies.
For a very long time, Japan has had a history of sharing the same living and sleeping space with all members of the family. Unlike in America, babies do not get a baby room, and children can sleep in the same room, possibly even side-by-side or in between their parents every night until their teenage years.
It wasn’t until after World War II when children started getting their own private bedrooms, and even now the practice isn’t so common. In Japan, land is very expensive, houses are small, rooms are small, and walls are very thin. There is almost no privacy to begin with. In order to give a private room to each child, parents have to be fairly well off, but they make the effort to ensure that their children have a tranquil private space to study undisturbed from the activities of the other members of the household. Private bedrooms for children is common now, and is even a popular sight to see in many Japanese animes, where characters who are students in the modern age have their own small room with a bed, a dresser, and a desk, stereotypically.
However, recently, parents and children seem to want to go back to the old days of sleeping together. According to some recent Japanese studies, they desire this sleeping arrangement to feel closer with their family members, creating stronger bonds and feeling less lonely. Some research also suggests that children who are emotionally closer to their parents also have an easier time bonding with friends and being social in the school environment.
Sure sleeping arrangements with small infants in the same bed as their parents can be dangerous. There have been many cases of mothers smothering their babies in their sleep. However, one cannot ignore the possible benefits of such sleeping arrangements, and it is an interesting contrast to sleeping arrangements of families in the USA.