Baby Sleep Positioners

FDA Warns Parents About Baby Sleep Positioners

  • Infant sleep positioners are dangerous and should never be used.
  • These products, also known as baby anti-roll pillows or nests, create considerable risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Scientific studies have never shown baby sleep positioners to offer any medical benefit for infants.
  • Despite the FDA’s warnings, some major companies, including Amazon, still have these products available for purchase.
  • A bare crib with a firm surface and no loose, soft materials — summarized as “Alone on the Back in a bare Crib” (ABC) — is the safest way for an infant to sleep.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a reminder this month to parents that baby sleep positioners are unsafe and should not be used. While FDA can advise parents, they cannot recall the products or pull them from shelves, and some retailers, including Amazon, continue to sell these dangerous items.

What Are Baby Positioners? Why Are They Dangerous?
Baby sleep positioners may also be advertised as “nests,” “baby anti-roll pillows,” or “baby crib wedges,” and they feature built-in raised supports, called bolsters, that are intended to help keep an infant in one position during sleep. These products are usually marketed for infants up to 6 months old. But having any kind of soft item — including toys, quilts, and other baby products — in the crib with an infant is dangerous. If the baby moves in the wrong way, the bolsters can cause suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Every year, over 4,000 children die of SIDS, and the FDA has identified 12 cases of infant death tied directly to the use of sleep positioners. Numerous other consumers have noted instances in which infants, after having been placed in a sleep positioner, had moved into a new position that could raise the risk of suffocation. These events underline the importance of avoiding these products for parents and caregivers of very young children.

Are There Benefits to Sleep Positioners?
In the past, some sleep positioners were advertised as offering potential health benefits for infants. In its most recent announcement, the FDA emphasizes that there is no scientifically-sound evidence for any of these health claims. This includes advertisements about baby sleep positioners and preventing acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)) or flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly). GERD is a condition in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, and plagiocephaly is a deformation of the skull that can occur from the disproportionate application of pressure to an infant’s head. Again, there is no evidence that baby crib wedges offer these benefits, and there is considerable evidence that they significantly increase the risk of infant suffocation.

Will Sleep Positioners Still Be Sold?
While the FDA can issue notices and guidance to parents and can crack down on any companies that market sleep positioners as health devices, the FDA does not have the ability to forcibly remove these products from stores. As a result, it is important for parents to be especially vigilant about staying informed and about avoiding these products. Despite recommendations from FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics, some major retailers, including Amazon, still have sleep positioners or similarly marketed sleep nests available for purchase. Amazon has also not issued any comment about whether they will continue to allow these types of baby anti-roll products to be sold on or through their website. Many other retailers and online marketplaces, however, including eBay, are in the process of removing sleep positioners after the FDA’s recent announcement.

What Are the Recommendations for Infant Cribs?
Instead of using a sleep positioner, parents and caregivers are encouraged to follow the ABC of infant sleep: “Always on the Back in a bare Crib.” A bare crib means a crib devoid of any kind of soft product, including pillows, blankets, quilts, loose sheets, and toys. By dressing an infant for sufficient warmth, these products are unnecessary and can be kept out of the crib in order to create a safer sleep environment. More details and tips about safe cribs and infant sleep can be accessed from the U.S. National Institutes of Health at https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/environment/Pages/look.aspx.

How Can Customers Be Involved?
Further regulation of these products may be possible through the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent federal agency that has different regulatory powers than FDA. At this time, no action has been taken by CPSC, but CPSC makes information about cribs available at https://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/cribs. Concerned parents and caregivers can contact the CPSC about this issue through their website at https://www.cpsc.gov/About-CPSC/Contact-Information/.

In addition, if consumers see any baby sleep positioners being marketed with claims about their potential health benefits for infants, or if consumers want to report adverse impacts from these products, those can be reported to the FDA at https://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm. The full FDA announcement can be found at https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm227575.htm.


Best Temperature for Sleep

The Best Temperature for Sleep

  • Thermostat settings during the night can influence the composition of different types of fat in the body.
  • Research in both mice and people indicates that a colder sleeping temperature likely promotes the development of brown fat, which can bring potential health benefits.
  • While much more research is needed, studies suggest that a temperature around 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) brings metabolic benefits without being too frigid for most people.

How our bodies function while sleeping depends on many different variables, and increasingly, research is finding that the temperature of the bedroom is one of those variables. A room with a cooler sleeping temperature may encourage beneficial changes when it comes to body composition and metabolism. These changes come predominantly from brown fat.

What Is Brown Fat?

Brown fat is a type of fat that exists in small quantities in the body and is sometimes known as a “good fat.”

When we usually talk about fat in the body, what we are actually talking about is white fat. Accumulation of white fat in the body can contribute to numerous health problems affecting a range of different bodily organs. But there is another type of fat — brown fat — that is different because it is metabolically active.

White fat is much more prevalent in the body. In fact, it is so much more common that for years, scientists weren’t sure that brown fat — which is found in rodents — was present in humans at all. The total amount of brown fat in the body is usually a few teaspoons at most, but even this amount of brown fat may be productive for the body.

In mice, brown fat has been found to burn calories to help stabilize the body’s core temperature, and the way that it does that is by removing sugar from the bloodstream. There is much that is still unknown about how brown fat functions in humans, but early indications are that it promotes metabolic health.

How Does Sleeping Temperature Affect Brown Fat?

A very small initial study in people, conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that people who slept in cold rooms had more brown fat than when they slept in warmer rooms. They also showed improvement in metabolic indicators as, for example, the study participants had improved insulin sensitivity when they slept in cold rooms.

What Is the Best Temperature for Sleep?

A great deal more research is needed before anyone can declare that the optimal sleeping temperature has been identified. That said, the research conducted at NIH found health benefits for people sleeping in a room kept at 66 degrees Fahrenheit. The study subjects wore light clothing (hospital scrubs) and used only light sheets. In the study, the health benefits were detectable after only 4 weeks of sleeping in a room of this temperature; however, these benefits evaporated after subsequently sleeping for 4 weeks in hotter temperatures (75 degrees and 81 degrees).

What Other Factors Should Be Considered?

In the study, the sleepers did not use heavy bedding in order to keep warm. It may be that the benefits of a lower thermostat setting will not be accrued if you layer on more clothing, blankets, or quilts.

In addition, a cold room may affect some people’s ability to fall asleep in the first place. If trying out a low temperature disrupts your overall sleep, you may not accrue the same health benefits as were found in the NIH study. In other words, it may not be worth it to turn down the thermostat if that just keeps you up at night.

Lastly, depending on the climate where you live, keeping your bedroom at a low temperature may be costly. For people based in very warm regions, be prepared for an increase in your electricity bill if you are setting the thermostat to 66 for the entire night.

Want to Read More?

An overview of the initial study mentioned above is available directly from the NIH, and for those who really like to dig into the science, you can read a detailed article about brown fat from the journal Diabetes. For more information about metabolism and metabolic disorders, you can review this portal for information from MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine.


Am I Allergic to My Mattress?

Am I Allergic to My Mattress?

  • The most common symptoms of bedroom allergies include congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchiness, including itchy eyes.
  • Dust mites, pet dander, and mold are among the most prevalent allergens found on and around your mattress.
  • Keeping your bedroom and bedding clean, controlling humidity, and limiting pet access to your bed (or your bedroom entirely) can all help to reduce the prevalence of allergens that can affect your sleep.

Allergies are an immune response that your body has to something in your environment. There are many different types of allergens and allergic reactions. While some allergies arise only seasonally, such as when certain plants flower, others may last for a longer period. In some cases, these reactions are caused by bedroom allergens. Given the numerous hours you spend every night on your mattress, these bedroom allergens can cause significant symptoms and can disrupt your sleep as well.

What Are the Symptoms of Bed Allergies?

Because they are an individualized immune response, allergies can cause a vast array of symptoms. The type of response also depends on the specific allergen. For example, inhaled allergens typically cause issues with nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, sore or itchy throat, cough, and similar respiratory issues. Allergens that touch the skin can cause rashes, itching, or blisters. And allergens that touch the eyes can cause itchy, red, or watery eyes. The most common bedroom allergens are ones that you breathe in, so the most prevalent symptoms are related to nose and throat irritation.

What Are Possible Causes of Bedroom Allergies?

In your home and bedroom, the most common types of allergens are dust mites, pet fur or dander, mold, and seasonal allergens like pollens.

  • Dust mites are very tiny insects that accumulate in places where dust and dead skin cells collect. Unfortunately, this often includes your mattress and bedding.

  • Pet fur and pet dander (skin cells shed by a pet) are both capable of causing allergies. These tend to collect in the areas where your pet spends the most time.
  • Mold grows in damp parts of your home that are without sufficient ventilation. Inhaled mold spores can cause allergic reactions.
  • Pollens and other outdoor seasonal allergens can enter the home through open doors and windows. They can also be carried into the home on your clothes and on pets.

There are also other sources of allergens in the home. These can range from certain building materials to cleaning products and detergents to various foods and drugs. In rare cases, it is possible that a person is allergic to materials that are used inside their mattress or to the materials used in bedding.

Also keep in mind that the presence of an allergen does not mean that you will have an allergic reaction. Some people do not have allergies to dust mites or pet dander or other allergens and as a result are not sensitive to the presence of those things in their bedroom. But if you notice that you are having allergy symptoms, it could be the result of one or more of these allergens in your home.

How Can I Protect Myself From Mattress Allergies?

While it’s virtually impossible to completely eliminate all allergens from your bedroom, there are a number of practical steps that you can take to help prevent them from building up. First, keep your bedroom and your bedding clean. Regularly vacuum floors and furniture with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, which helps to suck up allergens off of surfaces. Wash your bedding frequently in hot water and also consider using hypoallergenic covers on your pillows and mattress. Second, control the humidity in your bedroom. Both dust mites and mold thrive in higher humidity environments, so a dehumidifier can reduce their ability to grow. Third, limit the amount of time that your pets spend on your bed and in your bedroom. This is especially important if your pets are prone to significant shedding.

If these steps don’t help, talk with your doctor. Anyone who has persistent or severe allergies should consult with a health professional, such as an allergist, who can help conduct tests to identify specific sensitivities. A doctor or allergist may also be able to prescribe medications that can help control allergy symptoms.

Where Can I Learn More?

Detailed information about allergies is available from MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine. The National Sleep Foundation also offers tips for reducing bedroom allergies, and the National Institutes of Health offer helpful hints for knowing the difference between a cold, the flu, and allergies.


Science of beauty sleep

The Science of Beauty Sleep

The idea of “getting your beauty sleep” may sound old fashioned—something your grandma might have said to your mom, an old wives’ tale to get little girls to go to bed. But modern science is 100% on Grandma’s side. Beauty sleep is as real as it gets.

The Truth About Beauty Sleep – How It Works:

It all has to do with the hormones the brain excretes—and those it suppresses—during sleep. Though REM sleep is widely known as the brain’s magic elixir, Stages 3 and 4, known as deep non-REM sleep, are when the human growth hormone is produced, which is a major agent for keeping skin healthy. Growth hormone is so good at repairing and restoring skin that getting injections of it has become a Hollywood fad. But what celebrities spend thousands of dollars at their local plastic surgeon, you can get for free with an excellent night of sleep.

The flipside, of course, is that missing out on your beauty sleep can have extremely detrimental effects on your appearance. While the brain in deep sleep is pumping out growth hormone, it’s also suppressing cortisol, a stress hormone. While cortisol is necessary for a few important functions, in excess it wreaks havoc on the skin and body, leading to weight gain, acne, eczema, and even hair loss. A 4-hour night of sleep increases cortisol production by a whopping 37%—as if you weren’t already stressed out enough.

Get Some Sleep to Look Your Best

The effects of sleep deprivation on your looks aren’t just theoretical. A few major studies have shown that we can perceive the effects of sleep deprivation in others; one such study found that we view people who are sleep deprived as 6% less healthy, 4% less attractive, and 19% more tired. Even if an energy-drink-and-coffee cocktail in the morning perks you up enough to get through the day, your face can’t be fooled. Sleep is the only remedy.

Best Mattress Reviews has produced a brand-new infographic on the benefits of beauty sleep—and the harmful effects of missing out on it. Check it out for the full scoop on the most up-to-date science, as well as practical tips for sleeping and looking your best.

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Do Sound Machines Help You Sleep?

Do Sound Machines Help You Sleep?

At least one out of every three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep. The reasons for this include poor sleep habits, stress, and too much time in front of screens.

According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia is the sleep disorder behind much of this struggle to sleep. It includes the inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, and can also include waking up early and not being able to fall back to sleep.

If you have ever suffered from insomnia, then you know how miserable it is to lie in bed wide awake. Using a sound machine is one easy way to help yourself sleep better.

The Science Behind White Noise

White noise is any sound where the amplitude is constant throughout the audible frequency range. This means that the sound has equal volume levels across all of the frequencies that human beings can hear. This is the type of sound most often used to enhance sleep, because it has been scientifically shown to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. White noise may also help improve sleep in those who suffer from PTSD or ADHD.

Pink noise is similar to white noise, except that has more amplitude, or volume, at the lower frequencies. It sounds like white noise with some added bass. Pink noise is common in natural sounds like waves crashing on the sand or the drum of steady rain.

Source: Georgia State University Department of Physics and Astronomy

This type of sound can be helpful for sleep, too. Studies have shown that people who listen to it while they sleep spend more time in deep sleep. Since that is the most refreshing stage of sleep, pink noise could help sleepers feel more rested.

White Noise for Babies

White noise doesn’t just work for adults! It also works for babies. In one study, 80% of babies between 2 and 7 days old fell asleep within 5 minutes when caretakers used white noise, as opposed to only 25% of babies who fell asleep in that same time period without the noise.

White Noise for Babies

There is some controversy over the safety of using white noise with babies. Some machines produce sound that is loud enough to damage a baby’s hearing. However, following these simple guidelines can help make the machines safe for even the smallest baby.

  • 50 decibels is the maximum volume considered safe for a neonatal nursery in a hospital. Buy a baby sleep machine that advertises volumes at this level or lower.
  • Place the white noise machine well away from the baby’s crib. Even if you can’t measure the decibel level it produces, putting it farther away from the child makes it less likely to cause damage.

Sound Machines to Help You Sleep

There are many different types of sound machines that can produce the right kind of noise to help you or your baby sleep better. These are some of the best products on the market today:

MARPAC Dohm Sound Machine

  • This is the original sound machine. It is used not only for sleep, but also to block noise in shared work environments.
  • The sound machine produces white noise only, though it does come with two speeds and an adjustable housing so users can adjust the tone and volume of the sound.

Big Red Rooster Sound Machine

  • This machine offers 5 natural sounds, some of which pick up on pink noise frequencies, in addition to white noise.
  • It features a timer, so users can set it to shut off after 15, 30, or 60 minutes.
  • A compact design, this noise machine is perfect for small spaces or for use while traveling.

HoMedics SoundSpa Sound Machine

  • The SoundSpa machine features white noise, while also offering 5 other natural sounds.
  • It is batter operated, making it easier to travel with or move room-to-room.
  • The auto-off timer will shut the machine off after 15, 30, or 60 minutes, or you can leave it on all night.

If you suffer from insomnia, a sound machine could be your answer to better sleep. Whether you choose white noise or pink noise, using a sound machine could mean more, deeper, and better sleep as soon as tonight.


15 Ways to Make Your Mattress Last Longer

Purchasing a mattress is a significant investment, and if you’ve put the time, effort, and money into finding and buying the right mattress for you, it’s natural to want that mattress to last for as long as possible. Today, we’ll break down 15 different things that you can do to help make your mattress last longer.

  1. Choose wisely when you buy. This goes without saying, but doing your homework and understanding what goes into a well-made mattress is step one for preventing durability problems.
  2. Use a base for your mattress that is sturdy and appropriate for your mattress type. Mattress manufacturers typically offer guidance about what types of bed frames or bases are compatible with the mattress. Sometimes this is described in the fine print of the mattress warranty. Make sure that your bed setup meets these criteria and then inspect the base at least a few times per year for any signs of weakness or degradation that might affect the mattress itself.
  3. Observe weight guidelines. Not all mattresses are designed to support the same amount of weight. Often, the maximum weight for a mattress depends on its internal components. Avoid buying any mattress if your weight, combined with the weight of anyone else sharing the mattress, exceeds the listed maximum.
  4. Avoid excess pressure on the mattress. Repeated jumping is the most common way that undue pressure causes damage to a mattress. While kids (and maybe even adults) may be tempted to jump up and down on the mattress, it should be avoided if you want your mattress to last as long as possible.
  5. Reduce stress on the edge of the mattress. For many mattresses, the weakest point is at the edge, even for products that are built with extra edge support. While it’s fine to sit on the edge of your bed at times, doing so excessively could cause too much wear on the part of the mattress that is least equipped to absorb it.
  6. Keep pets, especially bigger animals, off the bed. It can be adorable to have a pet snuggle up in bed with you, but pets can put serious strain on a mattress. This can happen from their weight, from their movements, from claws or paws, and from pet accidents that can happen on the mattress. A separate pet bed on the floor nearby can keep your animal friends close without risking damage to your mattress.
  7. Stop or limit eating and drinking in bed. If you eat and drink in your bed often, it’s virtually inevitable that spills will occur or that crumbs will find their way into your bed. If food residue or liquids permeate into the mattress, they can degrade the components and reduce the lifespan of the mattress.
  8. Don’t smoke in your bedroom. Tobacco smoke can penetrate mattress materials and can lead to discoloration and to odors that may affect the long-term quality of your mattress.
  9. Use a mattress protector. A mattress protector goes over the cover of the mattress and can prevent the buildup of moisture, stains, and other things that can damage your mattress. Finding a high-quality mattress protector is especially important if you do permit your pet on your bed and/or if you eat and drink frequently in bed.
  10. Wash your bedsheets regularly. Every night, bedsheets accumulate small amounts of sweat, dirt, and other substances that can then collect on your mattress. If you launder your bedsheets regularly, you can help stop this buildup and prevent it from reaching your mattress.
  11. Wash the mattress cover according to manufacturer instructions. When you strip the sheets off the bed to wash them, that can be an excellent opportunity to wash your mattress cover. The proper method for cleaning your mattress cover depends on the material used in the cover, so make sure to check with the recommendations from the mattress maker before applying any chemicals or cleaning agents.
  12. Prevent bedbugs. An infestation by bedbugs can bring a quick and early demise to an otherwise excellent mattress. You can find background about bed bugs, tips for preventing them, and resources for getting rid of them in our bed bug guide.
  13. Remember to rotate your mattress. If your mattress is always positioned the same way, it can lead to uneven patterns of wear and tear. Try to remember to rotate (and if applicable flip) the mattress every few months.
  14. Move your mattress with care. Squeezing mattresses through doorways and into moving trucks can cause damage to the mattress and its internal components. Do your best to be gentle with your mattress and bed frame when moving them to avoid costly damage.
  15. Know your warranty and how to use it. Virtually every mattress comes with a warranty of at least 5 years, and some have 25-year or even lifetime warranties. Before buying a mattress, check out the warranty length and terms. And after you buy a mattress, be familiar with the process of making a warranty claim if you notice a defect.

It may not be possible or practical for everyone to put all 15 of these tips to use. But at the very least, you can apply some of these ideas and take the most meaningful steps to keep sleeping on the same mattress for many years into the future.


Yoga Poses for Sleep

Bedtime Yoga – Quiet Your Mind and Body for Sleep

When many people think of yoga, they envision hip classes in studios filled with chiseled people contorting in all sorts of directions. The truth, though, is that yoga can be simple and approachable, and yoga before bed can help prepare your mind and body for a great night of sleep.

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is a broad term that refers to a mind-body practice involving certain positions (known as poses), controlled breathing, and meditation. According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga can help to reduce stress and enhance relaxation. Combined with the physical benefits of stretching, a short bedtime yoga routine can be a helpful component of your sleep hygiene.

What Is Yoga for Sleep?

Remember that yoga for sleep is different than yoga that you might do as part of an aggressive fitness routine. Your goal isn’t to push the limits of your flexibility but instead to help settle your mind and relax your body in a way that makes it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed.

It’s also important to note that while most people can do yoga poses without issue, yoga isn’t for everyone. People with certain pre-existing medical conditions or injuries, as described by MedlinePlus, should use caution when beginning a new yoga routine and may want to consult with their doctor before doing so.

What Poses are Good for Bedtime Yoga?

If you’re ready to try out yoga for sleep, below we walk you through a number of poses that you can do in bed or in your bedroom.

Ujjayi Breath / Victorious Breath

Controlled breathing is a core element of yoga, and you can apply Ujjayi Breath during all of the poses below. It helps to regulate your breathing and settle your mind.

To do Ujjayi Breath, close your mouth and begin breathing through your nose. Your inhalations should be deeper than normal, and as you exhale, slightly constrict the muscles in the back of your throat. Exhale slowly. This should create a sound as you exhale, which is why this is also known sometimes as “hissing breath.”

If you’re struggling getting this breathing down, Mindful MVMNT has a detailed breakdown of the anatomy of Ujjayi breath.

Easy Pose

This is one of the most basic and well-known yoga poses. It helps to stretch the lower body and back and is a good starting position to begin controlling your breath.

To do Easy Pose, start by sitting with your back straight and your feet in front of you. Slowly cross your legs in front of you and place your palms on your knees. Adjust your weight and positioning to be comfortable — remember, this is called Easy Pose for a reason! Hold this position for one minute and then switch the cross of your legs and repeat.

Source: Yoga Outlet

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

This pose, which you can do on your back in bed, helps to stretch your lower body and core.

Start on your back with both legs in front of you. Bring your right knee up toward your chest and place your fingers around your hamstring, calf, or if you can, your big toe. Choose a hand position that does not place undue stress on your leg or back. You can also hold onto a strap or band that goes over the middle of your foot. Straighten your right leg into the air above you while keeping your left leg pressed into the bed. Hold the pose for at least 5 breaths, then slowly bring your right leg down and repeat with your left leg.

Source: Yoga Journal

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose can be done on your bed or floor and helps to stretch and relax the back, core, and arms.

Start on your knees with your hands on the ground out in front of you. While continuing to breath, lower your hips toward your heels. This should stretch your back and your arms if they are kept out in front of you. If it is more comfortable, you can bring your arms to your side. Your knees can be together or slightly separated depending on your comfort.

Source: Yoga Basics

Cat/Cow

Cat/Cow are two positions that involve slightly different arches in the back. Both can help to stretch out your back before bed.

Start on the ground (or your bed) on your hands and knees with your back straight. Slowly drop your stomach toward the ground while lifting your neck and tailbone. Then reverse this by raising your back up toward the ceiling while tucking your chin and tailbone.

Source: Do You Yoga

Reclining Bound-Angle Pose

This pose, which sometimes is also referred to as nighttime goddess stretch and can be done on your back in bed, helps to relax your body and stretch your legs, arms, and lower back.

Start this pose on your back with your knees bent and together. Gradually lower your knees to the bed while keeping your feet together. Extend your arms out from your body at an angle that feels comfortable.

Source: Yoga Journal

Corpse Pose

This pose is perfect to do before going to sleep because it mostly involves being on your back, in bed, and breathing deeply.

This simple pose starts by lying down on your back with your legs and arms spread out comfortably. Stay in this position and breathe deeply with your eyes closed.

Source: Yoga Journal

 

If you have time, you can do all these poses as part of a regular routine before bed, but if you’re short on time, you can pick the ones that feel best to you. Just remember to treat your body well, control your breath, and help get yourself relaxed for a restful night of sleep.