Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 4th 2017 Contents A24 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Monday, September 4, 2017
Parents find older babies sleep better in their own room
Parents who put babies to sleep in their
own rooms report the infants get more rest
and have more consistent bedtime routines
than parents who share a room or a bed
with their babies, a recent study suggests.
The study focused on infants six to 12 months
old. Researchers examined data from a ques-
tionnaire completed by parents of 6,236 infants
in the US and 3,798 babies in an international
sample from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Great
Britain and New Zealand. All participants were
users of a publicly available smartphone app
for baby sleep.
Overall, about 37 per cent of the babies in the
US and 48 per cent in the international sample
slept in a separate room, the study found. In
both groups, parents of infants who slept in a
different room reported that babies had ear-
lier bedtimes, took less time to fall asleep, got
more total sleep over the course of 24 hours,
and spent more time asleep at night.
"There are a number of possible reasons that
babies sleep better in their own room," said lead
study author Jodi Mindell, associate director
of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital
"One main reason is that they are more likely
to self-soothe to sleep," Mindell said by email.
Parents who put babies to sleep in a sep-
arate room were less likely to feed infants to
help them fall asleep at bedtime or when they
awoke during the night, according to the study,
published online August 11 in Sleep Medicine.
When babies had their own rooms, parents also
perceived bedtime to be less difficult.
One limitation of the study is that parents
with concerns about infant sleep might be
more likely to download an app and complete a
sleep questionnaire than parents without these
concerns, the authors note. This might mean
the results aren't representative of what would
happen in a larger population of households.
The results are also at odds with infant sleep
Last year, the American Academy of Pediat-
rics (AAP) issued new guidelines recommend-
ing newborns sleep in the same bedroom as
their parents for at least the first six months of
their lives to minimise the risk of sleep-relat-
ed deaths. Ideally, babies should stay in their
parents' rooms at night for a full year, AAP
That's because babies sleeping in the same
room as parents, but not the same bed, may
have a lower risk of sudden infant death syn-
drome (SIDS). The safest spot for infant sleep
is on a firm surface such as a crib or bassinet
without any soft bedding, bumpers or pillows,
the guidelines stressed.
"Pediatric providers have been struggling
with what to tell parents since the release of
the AAP recommendations," Mindell said.
"Once a baby is past the risk of SIDS, by six
months of age, parents need to decide what
works best for them and their family, which
enables everyone in the family to get the sleep
they need." (Reuters)
Quick 'mindfulness' fix
may help curb drinking
Heavy drinkers may be able to cut back after
brief mindfulness training exercises that involve
helping them focus on what's happening in the
present moment, a small experiment in the UK
Researchers recruited 68 heavy drinkers who wer-
en't alcoholics for the test. They randomly assigned
participants to receive either a training session in re-
laxation strategies or an 11-minute training session
in mindfulness techniques to help them recognise
cravings without acting on them.
Over the next week, people who received mindful-
ness training drank significantly less than they had
during the week before the study started, but people
in the relaxation group did not drink significantly less.
"Our study was not a clinical trial and did not in-
volve 'treating' people who needed help cutting down
their alcohol use," said study co-author Dr Damla
Irez of University College London.
"But it did suggest that people who drink too much,
but don't have an alcohol use disorder, might be able
to reduce their consumption, at least in the short term,
by practicing mindfulness," Irez said by email.
During the mindfulness training, people were told
to pay attention to cravings instead of suppressing
them. They were told that by noticing bodily sensa-
tions, they could tolerate them as temporary events
without needing to act on them.
Relaxation training, meanwhile, told people that
softening the muscles, calming and unwinding the
mind and releasing tension in the body can reduce
the intensity of cravings.
After receiving one of these trainings, participants
were encouraged to practice the techniques they
learned over the next week.
Right after training, both groups reported reduced
cravings for a drink, though the decline was greater
in the relaxation group, researchers report in the In-
ternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.
However, people in the mindfulness group con-
sumed 9.3 fewer units of alcohol, roughly the equiv-
alent of three pints of beer, in the week after training
than they did in the week before the study started. In
the relaxation group, people consumed three fewer
units of alcohol---a difference too small to rule out
the possibility that it was due to chance.
Beyond its small size, another limitation of the
study is that the researchers relied on participants
to accurately recall and report how much alcohol they
consumed and whether they had been diagnosed with
alcohol use disorder. The study was also too brief to
determine how much training people might require
to make a lasting impact on their drinking habits.
Still, the first step to target addictive behaviors
is to become aware of them, said Stefan Hofmann,
a psychology researcher at Boston University who
wasn't involved in the study.
"Humans tend to establish habits and link behaviors
to situational cues," Hofmann said by email.
For drinkers, this might mean that being around
certain people or in certain places, such as a bar, might
make drinking more likely, Hofmann said. (Reuters)
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