Birth order and sleep?

Thursday November 18, 2010 @ 10:44 PM (UTC)

I’m currently watching over the baby monitor as my sister and brother-in-law take in a show. When they left, they asked me to go in and check that the younger nephew was sleeping in five minutes, which I did. Fast asleep. And this, mind you, with his door cracked and next door, his older brother keeping up a running dialogue with himself about whether he wanted to be a construction worker or an “old-time car driver”. Yes, he was supposed to be asleep. No, he didn’t want to be.

It made me wonder if those two perennial favorites of psychological study, birth order and sleep, have ever been considered together. When the older boy was this age, surely, we tiptoed around as he slept? The younger one is learning to sleep through all sorts of outbursts and upset. It might be interesting to find out if many older siblings are, like Ryan, light sleepers. For myself, a younger sibling, I am a deep diver into the sea of sleep. Probably a specious theory, but perhaps worth looking up tomorrow, when I’ve completed my night’s dive.


Ryan was definitely the lightest of sleepers of the three, followed (in birth order) by Risa, then Rustin. Both Ryan and Risa were lighter sleepers than other people’s children. Rustin, as I recall, slept pretty soundly. He spent his first 3 1/2 weeks of life in the NICU, however, which in those days was full of light and noise.

So, in our household at least, your theory stands. N=3 FTW!

In my family, my parents are both terrible sleepers, I am a terrible sleeper, and all three of my brothers (two older, one younger) are terrible sleepers. Episodes in my family of insomnia, sleepwalking, nightmares, and sudden waking at the slightest of noises provided us with a lot of bonding stories (and a lot of video games and cooking in the middle of the night, which admittedly was pretty fun) but there didn’t seem to be a correlation between birth order and better or worse sleep habits.
In my husband’s family, he and his brother are both deep sleepers. Maybe there’s some genetics at work?

I’m the oldest, and I am a light sleeper at the beginning and end of a night. Lately I’ve been a deep sleeper in the middle of the night and people around me can move without me knowing. That’s also a product of the marriage and its aftermath, though, I think. Good question.

I am first born and slept through the Columbus Day Storm (before your time).

I slept easily, well, and deeply. Before having children. (You always sleep with one ear open.) It may just be individual, but Z and C were put down to sleep very differently birth through 4 months, and one could draw conclusions through to the present day based on that… I picture them sharing a room in a year or so and the older one tryign to keep the younger one awake!

I’m the oldest in my family, and I have slept through earthquakes and Midwestern thunderstorms. But if my kitten attacks my feet, I’m up in a heartbeat.

My youngest sister is an EPIC sleeper, and she shared a room from birth with at least one of her older siblings. So while it might be plausible that later birth order = good at sleeping through anything, I don’t know that it precludes earlier birth order from doing the same. :)

Salutations from Finland! A friend shared an FB link of your Valentine’s Day post and then I started reading the rest. :)

My little sister and I are so close in age (just a year and change apart…) that I doubt we had time to learn different sleeping habbits. Ours seem to be genetic, since I’m a heavy sleeper like Dad was and Sis has trouble sleeping like Mom does. The only thing we share is being a “moon loon” as we call it. None of us sleeps on a full moon, especially during the winter. I have fond memories of winter nights with each of us three curled up in our own corner of the living room, reading a book by moon light. We never felt the need to say anything and Dad never knew a thing. :D

It seems like there are a lot of factors here! And that’s not even counting the new factor “if you mention in a blog post that you sleep deeply and easily, you will start having insomnia, disturbed sleep, and nightmares.” Damn it!

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