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Infants

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average newborns requires up to 18 hours of sleep per day, and spends almost nine hours a day in REM sleep. Drs. Sprott and Richardson researched crib deaths in the U.K. and New Zealand for over ten years, correlating death with accidental poisoning; the poisons comprising one or more gases generated by microbiological activity of chemicals in the baby's crib. They also found that the gases, more dense than air, caused death by interfering with the baby's nerve function, thus causing breathing difficulties and ultimately heart failure. These gases were identified as the hydrides and/or lower alkyl derivates of phosphorus (P), arsenic (As) and antimony (Sb) and a common fungus, Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, as the most likely principal organism with the capability to cause the resultant death. These gases were found in the afflicted babies' mattresses and other bedding.

This data is very controversial amongst the organizations involved with SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in the U.S., but has led to intervention programs to prevent off-gassing in crib mattresses in the U.K. and New Zealand. In the UK, a voluntary program greatly reduced the level of infant deaths and in New Zealand a compulsory program virtually eliminated the problem over a 10-year period. Crib mattresses in the U.S. are primarily made with polyurethane foam, a chemical fire blocker and a PVC cover. This same research indicates these materials contain the chemical off-gasses. Some premium crib mattresses offer memory foam and other synthetic foam options, but these foams off-gas as well and have not been proven to be entirely non-toxic, hypoallergenic and anti-microbial. This research (and the causal test data in the UK and New Zealand) indicates that keeping the crib environment free from off-gassing foams, fungus, microbial growth and toxic materials is a prudent course of action when it comes to protecting infants.

A New York Times article published in 2009 stated, "Conventional mattresses for children are often covered in vinyl, which begins life as a hard plastic and is softened using additional chemicals, frequently ones called phthalates. But small amounts of phthalates have been found in human tissue, and have also been linked to health problems. Last year California became the first state to ban the sale of mattresses with phthalates for use by children, in a law that became effective on Jan. 1. On Feb. 10, a federal law passed by Congress in August will forbid the use of three types of phthalates in products for young children, including mattresses." Positive evidence that, although in small steps-steps none the less-are beginning to be made to protect our young sleepers from potentially harmful materials.

Children

By the age of five, only slightly over two hours is spent in REM sleep. Studies say that school-age children need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep per day to continue to grow and mature into their teenage years. Children to adolescents from ages 10 – 17 begin to get into a more normal sleeping habit and most napping will be eliminated. According to the Mayo Clinic, children need better sleep at this stage of life because they are still growing. A study done at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., involving 11,000 children over a period of six years has uncovered stunning new results that indicate that problem sleeping may be linked to causing symptoms of ADHD and ADD. The study found that children who have sleeping disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea are as much as 90% more likely to suffer from ADHD symptoms.

Not getting enough sleep at night can leave children hyperactive, aggressive, depressed and anxious. In a controlled situation, children who snore perform significantly worse in both language abilities and overall intelligence. While this does not mean that every child with ADHD developed it due to poor sleep, it certainly supports the need for children to get quality sleep-especially for those that suffer from such disorders. It's clear that the importance of creating a positive sleep environment for children is equal to feeding them nutritious food. This includes providing a sleeping surface that supports the body structurally, and one that does not expose the child to potentially interfering toxic substances that can have a negative physiological.

Adults

As adults age, the amount of sleep needed is actually reduced. After the age of 18, most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, as the body ages, it becomes more difficult to achieve level III & IV deep-healing sleep and REM- a result of changes to the musculoskeletal system. As humans age, their bodies require better cushioning and support while they sleep, without which there will be an increase in sleep related pain. This leads to frequent tossing and turning, which sleep research proves, robs the sleeper of deep, healing-level sleep. Many people think poor sleep is a normal part of the aging progression. However, it is not normal to toss and turn in an interruptive way, and is in fact an indicator that the sleeping surface may be failing. Nor is it normal not to have quality sleep on a regular basis. There is also evidence that the use of synthetic foams contributes to the adult population's sleep problems as well.

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