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Sleep is a precious thing, especially if you're a parent to an infant. When you get to the point where you consider sleep a rare commodity, you may be willing to try anything to get some shuteye, including co-sleeping.

However, true co-sleeping - sleeping in the same bed as your baby - can be dangerous for the child, as evidenced by several headlines recently in which, sadly, children died while sleeping in the same bed as their parents.

"Some parents find co-sleeping helps them and their babies get to sleep more easily, and they feel it provides more bonding time," said Geisinger pediatrician Marie S. Lena, M.D. "However, in addition to possible tragic repercussions, there's evidence to suggest it isn't beneficial for the child or parent."

While it can help your baby fall back to sleep more quickly if you're there when they wake as well as encourage breastfeeding by making those nighttime feedings more convenient, evidence suggests that both parent and baby often end up getting less sleep.

"Infants tend to move around and make sounds while they sleep, which could disturb your sleep or wake you because you think your baby needs something," Dr. Lena said. "Sometimes infants whimper, wake and go right back to sleep during the night - if you pick up your baby with the first whimper, you may prevent them from falling back to sleep on their own."

Babies sleeping next to their parents tend to spend less time in deep stages of sleep and wake up more often.

"If you want to make nighttime feedings easier and keep your baby close while sleeping without the safety risks, putting a crib or bassinet in your bedroom can be a much safer and comfortable option for both you and your baby," Dr. Lena said.

Despite this reality, some parents decide that it's better - more convenient, closer to their baby, etc. Others don't make the conscious decision to share a bed with their infant - it just sort of happens. If you accidentally fall asleep with your baby, it's important to make sure you're set up in a spot that's safe for your baby - sofas and armchairs are considered the most dangerous.

"In order to ensure your baby is always safe while sleeping, they should be placed to sleep on their back on a firm surface," Dr. Lena said. "Additionally, their crib or bassinet should be free of fluffy pillows, blankets or stuffed animals - they can pose a suffocation risk."

And remember, the discipline of sleeping apart from your bundle of joy might seem difficult, or even impossible, but in the long run it's better for you and your child.