Part 2: SIDS in South Africa

In Part 1, we looked at the most recent report released by the American Academy of Paediatrics regarding the risks and recommendations surrounding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This advice may have shocked many South African families for whom co-sleeping and baby-wearing are a part of our daily lives.

In Part 2 we take a look at SIDS in South Africa and safe to sleep practices in countries beyond the borders of the USA.

There is very little research available about the incidence of SIDS here in South Africa, where infants are more likely to die from infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis and HIV and fatal injuries due to drownings, car accidents and fires.

In general, Asian and African countries reported a lower incident rate of SIDS compared to the Western world. They also have the highest incidence of co-sleeping. Are Africans co-sleeping in a different way to Americans and could co-sleeping actually be a protective factor for South African babies?

In America, there are 0.5 deaths per 1000 live births. In Zimbabwe, the incidence is only 0.2 deaths per thousand live births in black township communities. In South Africa, statistical data showed a rate of 1.06 deaths per 1000 live births for white babies, but only 0.3 deaths per thousand for black infants.

This means that the majority of South African babies are less at risk of SIDS than American babies despite the common practice in Zimbabwean and South African townships where babies do not have their own room and co-sleeping is the norm.

Because of these cultural differences, the Child Safe campaign (a South African initiative)  is a great place for South African families to gather advice on how to keep their babies and children safe at home.  The Child Safe campaign recommends avoiding any product with loose fittings and strings and staying away from non-breathable fabrics that could cause your baby to overheat. The Sealy Cot mattress takes this into consideration in its design – the mattress is breathable but also easily cleaned with the wipe of a cloth.
Another sleep safe initiative may be the simplest of all: A cardboard box.  Finland recently introduced the Maternity Box, a cardboard box that gives all Finnish babies a safe place to sleep for their first six months. The country has seen a significant reduction in infant mortality rates.


Read Part 1: What parents can do to prevent the risk of SIDS

Written by Roxanne Atkinson

Part 1: What parents can do to reduce the risk of SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a new parents’ greatest fear. SIDS is an inexplicable phenomenon that occurs across the globe in all cultures – some infants die suddenly in their sleep. Despite thorough investigations including a review of the clinic history and autopsy, no cause of death can be found.

Because newborns spend between 12 and 17 hours asleep in their first few months of life, the infants are often unsupervised at the time of death and so parents are left with many unanswered questions. Did they die peacefully? Is there anything we could have done to prevent this happening?

In Part 1 we cover how you can help reduce the risk of SIDS in your home

There are a lot of questions we cannot yet answer, but what we do know about SIDS has been gathered through studying thousands of cases: >>>

• The incidence of SIDS peaks in infants between 2-4 months
• Premature infants are more at risk than full–term infants
• More infants died whilst sleeping on their stomachs than on their backs
• Breastfeeding was a protective factor – exclusive breastfeeding had the most protective effect, but some breastfeeding was better than none at preventing SIDS.
• Co-sleeping (especially with a parent/partner who was a smoker) is a common factor in SIDS cases
• Another risk factor is a baby sleeping on or near parents who are under the influence of alcohol, prescription medicine or sleeping pills
• Sleeping in a room away from parents increased the risk of SIDS
• Co-sleeping on a couch or on an old, soft mattress were also risk factors
• Interestingly, devices that recorded a baby’s heart rate and breathing did not seem to be a protective factor in reducing SIDS.
• The use of a dummy/pacifier is a protective factor, even if the dummy falls out the infant’s mouth.
• Swaddling is a risk factor once a baby has learned to roll.

The American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) recently held a press conference to unveil the “Safe to Sleep” campaign. This is the first time since 2011 that infant sleep guidelines have been published.

Here is a summary of the recommendations to new parents:

1. Babies should sleep on their backs in a separate cot/crib/bassinette in the same room as their parents until at least one year of age
2. A baby’s cot should be fitted with a firm mattress that fits snuggly in the cot, such as the Sealy cot mattress
3. The mattress can be covered with a thin, fitted mattress protector, such as the Sealy Posturepedic® Soft Touch Cot Mattress Protector, made from natural bamboo fabric and a breathable fitted sheet. There should be no loose sheets, bumpers, wedges, pillows or toys in the cot.
4. The baby should be dressed in the correct amount of layers of clothing and/or use wearable blankets. Loose blankets, quilts and weighted blankets should be avoided.
5. All electrical wires, window blind cords and dummy cords should be removed from the cot.
6. Place them in their cot for every nap and every night sleep.
7. Avoid allowing baby to sleep in a baby car-chair or sling where they may overheat or suffocate. Move them to their cot as soon as possible.

In terms of cot alternatives, parents are encouraged to think critically when buying products such as co-sleeping bed extensions and baby crib hammocks such as the Cresent Womb newborn hammock and to apply the same recommendations to these devices.

Three podcasts that will help you fall asleep faster

Counting sheep can get a little laborious. Here are the 3 most popular podcast options that help you fall asleep fast:

1. Podcasts that are powerful sleep meditations 

If winding down is your problem, then meditation may be your best sleep medicine. From calm and melodic mantras to slow and rhythmic breathing, Sip and Om offers a daily podcast to keep it fresh. However, you may want to use the same meditation each night to train your brain to fall asleep faster.

2. Podcasts that bore you to sleep

I am not convinced that the author/narrator of these stories actually set out to create sleep-inducing podcasts, but his creations definitely will put you to sleep. This narrator has an awfully monotone voice and a seriously distracted thought process. Some long descriptions will help you lose the will to stay alive… I mean awake.

3. Podcasts that are actual bedtime stories

Various acclaimed authors tell interesting tales that will keep you glued to your mattress. If you struggle to fight the urge to get out of bed then these entertaining tales may be what you need to help you lie down long enough to actually fall asleep.

Make sure you give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep by starting your night out on a good mattress. Could it be that your old, uncomfortable mattress is robbing you of precious sleep? Mattresses should be replaced every 8 to 10 years. If it’s time to invest in a new bed, visit the Sealy website to see our range of mattresses.

Related stories:
Bedtime mantras for better sleep
Sayings to get you to sleep faster

Written by Roxanne Atkinson

Why women get less sleep than men

Women are 20% more likely to have a sleeping disorder, require more sleep than their male counterparts to stay healthy and are 45% more likely to get a chronic disease if they become sleep deprived.

Whilst sleep promises us beauty, youthful exuberance and calm, it is the first thing we lose grip on when facing any major feminine transition. (Even though we know women need more sleep than men!)


Once born into this world, a girl’s greatest challenge is usually switching off. Programmed for multi-tasking and using more of her brain more often than her boy peers, girls battle to switch off at night… taking longer to fall asleep and finding it more difficult to stay asleep.


The rise and fall of progesterone and estrogen unleashes mood swings, food cravings and the menstrual cycle on teenage girls. Teenage girls must survive a week every month where sleep is broken as a result of their fluctuating hormones.


And then enters a loving partner. Coupling up is wonderful. Yes, there are cuddles and post-coital endorphin releases, but these are sporadic. What’s more reliable is sleep disruption every night from their breathing ‘noises’, tossing and turning and blanket-stealing.

You may find your way around partner disturbance by buying a super-large mattress from the Sealy Pocket Coil range, using earplugs and placing cushions between you and your loved one to prevent their appendages from waking you. (For more tips, read our article: How to sleep well with your partner in the same bed.)


But then pregnancy finds you. From the first trimester you are hit with nausea, the need to pee, pee, pee, leg cramps that attack only at night and of course a heavy, preggy belly that causes back pain. Oh and there is an actual, growing human being pounding away at your insides. You wait it out- certain that post-pregnancy there will be great relief for you as you get your body back to yourself.


Enter the babies, and they laugh at your idea of ever sleeping through again. They ask for feeds, loves, burps, nappy changes and shout ‘Mommy, I need you!’ Why don’t they shout for ‘him’ you wonder at 2am or 4am as you see their father sleeping peacefully totally unaware of the night time shenanigans?

And yes they grow. But feeds give way to wet beds and nightmares, which give way to feuds with friends and school projects left too late and sleepovers and driving at night and well, just as they are leaving the nest….


Just when you accept that your kids are big enough to worry about themselves, sleep alludes you again. The whirlwind change in hormones brings with it hot flashes that force you to change your pyjamas and bedding every couple of hours. (Click here for menopause sleep tips.)

Sleep – you are for us women an alluring, but evasive, bedfellow.

Written by Roxanne Atkinson

Sleeping pills for sleep? It turns out sedated sleep leads to poor sleep

According to sleep scientist Patrick Fuller, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, sleeping pills are not as helpful as you may think. Known as hypnotics or sedatives to the medical community, sleeping pills are used by many as a quick-fix guarantee for getting good sleep.

“I’m not a basher of hypnotics, because I think that they can play a particularly important role in people who do have true insomnia,” Fuller told Tech Insider. “But for the most part, I think many people taking hypnotic medications actually don’t need them and should work to get off of them… it’s just a cheap fix. And it’s not the right fix.”

If you do not have a diagnosed sleep disorder such as insomnia, then sleeping pills are a bad solution if you are looking for quality sleep for the following reasons:

• Sleeping pills cross the blood-brain barrier where they interfere and cause drowsiness, memory loss headache, double vision and forgetfulness
• Once they are beyond the brain they act erratically on every cell in the body causing muscle aches, stuffy or runny nose, diarrhoea, swollen glands, voice changes and even belching!
• Women should take far lower doses than men as it takes their bodies longer to process the drug’s active ingredient, zolpidem. This can cause fatal accidents if women drive while under its effects the morning after taking their sleeping pills.
• Sleeping pills are highly addictive- once you start taking them to help you sleep it is difficult to stop as any sleep issues will worsen when you stop taking the pills.

Fuller recommended waking up at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine six hours before bedtime, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol at night, avoiding smartphone and e-reader screens in bed, and setting the sleeping mood.

Read more:

Simple tips for dealing with insomnia

‘Clean Sleeping’ tips for better sleep

Could it be that your old, uncomfortable mattress is robbing you of precious sleep? Before you start taking sleeping tablets, give your bedroom an audit. How old is your mattress? (mattresses should be replaced every 8 to 10 years.) Is it still comfortable? Do you have black-out curtains? Do you keep electronics (like TVs and mobile phones) out of the bedroom?

If it’s time to invest in a new bed, visit the Sealy website to see our range of mattresses.

Sleep – the US Army’s new powerful weapon

The US Army knows that soldiers and athletes share many traits: discipline, teamwork, commitment… and that good quality sleep improves their performance. (Read: Five ways sleep impacts an athlete’s performance)

From 2015-2016, 80 US soldiers were introduced to a new way of doing army life. For one full year, these soldiers agreed to learn and live the three pillars of a wellness campaign known as ‘The Performance Triad’. These pillars are nutrition, exercise and sleep. Regular, intense exercise and healthy eating were already common practice within the army, but sleep was something to be treated with disdain rather than to be prioritised.

And so the study has focussed on improving the sleep of these 80 soldiers above anything else.

This was achieved and monitored as follows:
• Fitbits were worn to track their sleep – the aim was for soldiers to get at least 7,5 hours of quality sleep in.
• Physical Training times were adjusted – rather than working out at 6.30am, these men were told to sleep in, have breakfast at home and save themselves for their tough, daily cardio and strength regimen at 4 p.m.
• Nightly “bed checks” were done earlier – the alarms used were quieter and the sergeant inspects the beds all at once rather than over two hours.

Jordan Thornburg, battalion physician assistant at Fort Riley, told The Huffington Post:

“The afternoon PT was a dramatic switch at first, since early-morning PT is the ‘Army Way’, but they quickly came to love it. Their morale was better, they were less irritable, and their performance went up. Which makes sense because waking up later is more in line with their natural circadian rhythms.”

The sleep interventions have shown encouraging results:
1. The soldiers improved their marksmanship scores from 75.6 percent to 91.9 percent.
2. Physician assistant, Jordan Thornburg, based at Fort Riley, reported “that they had higher morale, were more punctual and had improved endurance”.
3. The soldiers reported improved quality of life – they could spend more time with their children before school and eat breakfast as a family at home.

The US army’s greatest challenge now is to find ways to give more sleep to those on and off duty. Between 2011 and 2014, fatigue was cited as the cause of 628 army accidents and 32 soldier deaths.

As Thornburg, who served as an engineer officer in both Iraq and Kuwait, has said: “We want our soldiers to be in peak form from their training, not worn down. And in the field — frankly, I think it could reduce deaths.”

For those of us who have the privilege of getting enough sleep, surely we should make it a priority? Want to feel better and do better every day? Be sure to get your body on a Sealy.
If you invest in a Sealy before 30 September 2017, you could also win your share of R250,000.

50 years of Sealy sleep: Some things change, some stay the same

Our Sealy story begins in 1881, in Sealy, Texas, when Daniel Haynes, a cotton gin builder, made cotton-filled mattresses for a few of his friends. Fifteen years later, Haynes sold his patents to a Texas company that retained the Sealy handle. Soon after, ad exec Earl Edwards penned the slogan “Sleeping on a Sealy is like sleeping on a cloud.” And with that, Sealy mattresses became a US phenomenon.
In 1967, the first Sealy Posturepedic mattress was produced at a factory in South Africa and the Sealy Posturepedic was first aired on television. It wasn’t long before our people loved the ingenuity of the Sealy Posturepedic mattress too and Sealy became the number one mattress choice.

In celebration of our 50th Birthday, we take a look back and discover how things have changed and how things have stayed the same.

What’s changed since 1967?

Over the last 50 years, there has been extensive interest in sleep. Sleep research, sleep medicine and sleep technology have unlocked many sleep mysteries and aided in the development of even better materials and mattresses.

Look at this ad from around 1989… R459 for a bed! The good old days!

Join us on our journey of sleep.
Join us on our journey of sleep.

On our birthday, it is with great joy that we recall some of our greatest milestones:

• Creating the Sealy Posturepedic – the first mattress of its kind that provided not just comfort but also postural support.
• Registering patents for a variety of groundbreaking technologies – including PostureTech Coil with Sense & Respond Arm; Pressure Relief Inlays and healthy fabrics, designed to relieve pressure points.
• Reinventing the innerspring coil to give tailored support and pressure relief.
• Introducing the use of latex and Gel memory foam into our mattresses to improve sleep quality.
• Producing Sealy mattresses at multiple facilities in Johannesburg, Cape Town and KwaZulu Natal.
• Being the first mattress company to offer a range of comforts – Firm, Medium, Plush and Extra Length.
• Creating an Orthopedic Advisory Board in the USA – a group of the finest doctors, clinicians and orthopedic surgeons who play a critical role in the design process.
• Creating the Pressure Mapping Lab Center of Excellence in the USA, a first-of-its-kind facility where all Sealy Posturepedic mattresses are scientifically tested to ensure that they provide maximum comfort by eliminating the uncomfortable pressure points that cause tossing and turning.
• Launching Do-Not-Turn mattresses to the consumer, a one-sided mattress.
• Commissioning the first large-scale consumer research study in the South African bedding industry.

In 2017, after all these new developments, has anything at Sealy South Africa stayed the same?

At Sealy, we still have a very simple mission: to help the world sleep better

• We continue to produce high-quality mattresses at affordable prices- even our budget-priced mattresses have quality features and materials to ensure durability.
• All our products are manufactured to the ISO.9001/2 quality system, ensuring every mattress leaves our facility quality controlled.
• Did you know that the Sealy Posturepedic is still the only mattress brand in the industry that has pressure-relieving standards for every mattress produced?
• Our family of mattress brands can be found in homes like yours, hotels and luxury resorts worldwide, and even the White House, making Sealy the no.1 consumer choice in South Africa.
• Sealy is also a leading supplier to the hospitality industry in South Africa and can be found in some of the finest establishments.
• We are proud that our consumers are loyal and have made Sealy and its brands the most popular in the world.
• Through its design, manufacturing and leadership, Sealy will always have an undying dedication to helping the world sleep better.

And so at 50-years young, we at Sealy South Africa are poised to continue in this legacy for many years to come.

Stand a chance to win 1 of 5 prizes of R50,000 cash, enter into the Sealy 50th Birthday Bash before end September 2017! Click here for more information.

Written by Roxanne Atkinson


The Sealy Cot Mattress – Giving your baby the best start

Every parent aims to give their baby the best they can and most nesting begins with just that… building your baby’s very own nest or nursery. Most moms-to-be feel terribly anxious until they are satisfied with where and how their baby is going to sleep. One of the biggest decisions that parents-to-be face is whether to co-sleep with their baby or put their baby in its own cot. The Sealy Cot Mattress is the answer for many moms.

Whatever you decide, there will be many times in that first month (and beyond!) where a cot will be a practical solution during self-care activities (bathing, dressing etc..), whilst minding other children or pets or if co-sleeping means you’re not getting much sleep at all.

The style of cot is dependent on your personal taste but a good quality mattress is a must. Sealy has two exciting products that will surely enhance your nest. The first is the Sealy Cot Mattress made of natural fibres that are waterproof, but breathable. The mattress fibres have a polyurethane layer that allows air to pass through but prevents liquids from following along. This ensures that the mattress retains its anti-bacterial properties despite the spills and thrills that come along with baby-rearing. At the same time your baby is ensured comfort and ventilation. Furthermore, Sealy’s individually wrapped pocket springs give postural support to your babies developing body. To clean simply wipe down the mattress with a damp cloth.

The second product is the Soft Touch Bamboo Cot Mattress Protector. Bamboo is a soft, natural fibre that absorbs six times more moisture than cotton. The mattress protector serves to make your mattress last longer but also to keep your baby as comfortable as possible.

A good night’s rest is one step closer with a safe sleeping environment that is clean, dry and warm. Visit the Sealy website to find out more about Sealy’s range of mattresses and accessories.

Read more about babies and sleep here:

Sleep thieves that may be waking your baby

Reader-approved sleep tips for Mombies

Ignore thread count – it’s quality, not quantity that counts

Since the mid-1990s, bed sheet manufacturers have been boasting about thread count. Like most things, they have preached ‘more is better’ and charged more for higher thread counts.

Thread count is the number of threads that occur in a square inch of fabric. Threads can run horizontally, this is called ‘weft’, or vertically, this is called ‘warp’. A low thread count could mean a thinner, more fragile fabric, whilst a higher thread count could mean you have a fabric that will wash well and last longer.
But don’t be fooled

“Once you get beyond 400 threads per square inch, be suspicious” says Julian Tomchin, retired Vice President of homestore Macy’s in the USA. “An 800-thread-count sheet made of two-ply yarn should legitimately be relabeled as 400,” he said. “That’s how you get 1,000 threads per square inch: creative counting.”

So if you can’t rely on a number, then what can you rely on?

“You can’t tell a good set of sheets until you feel them,” Tannen says. “Pull it out of the package, or look at the sample on the floor. Look at the stitching. Is it tight? Is it neat? Although a lot of products are machine-made, if the craftsmanship looks good, that’s a sign of a product that will last.
Jim Symmes, vice president at Revman International, which manufactures sheets for prominent brands such as Tommy Bahama and Laura Ashley agrees.

“There are 200-count cotton sheets out there that are finished very nicely and actually feel like they have a higher thread count,” Symmes says. Read more here: Guide to buying sheets.
Sealy offers sheets and pillow cases made from quality 100% percale cotton with a 300 thread count. These sheets feel soft and luxe, but are crisp and fresh and help wick away both heat and moisture. Our unique fitted sheet comes with a 3-way stretch skirt offering a snug fit on the mattress. The skirt prevents the sheet from bunching up and moving, but don’t take our word for it, give it a try and you’ll love the difference it makes.

Want to dress your bed, with soft, breathable bedding made from 100% cotton Percale? Sealy has the answer. Click here to find out about our sheets and other bedding.

Written by Roxanne Atkinson

Read more about bedding:

Polycotton, cotton or linen – what bedding works best?

How to keep bedding clean – Part 1

How to keep bedding clean – Part 2


Here’s how sleeping naked will improve your life…

We all know that eating well and exercising regularly have massive health benefits, but eating well and exercising regularly are not that easy. They take effort… and time…. and motivation – which are often in short supply. Could a healthier and wealthier life be achieved by embracing something as simple as sleeping naked – which takes far less effort, time and motivation?

The research is in and it seems that you would have to be crazy not to sleep in the buff. Here’s how ditching your pyjamas can help you become healthier and wealthier.

1. Healthier

• Less restrictive clothing means better air flow and increased blood flow. This assists your skin health by preventing yeast and fungal infections that thrive in moist, warm environments.

• PJs also disrupt sleep (think twisted night shirts) and add to over-heating (think night sweats). Sleep quality and body temperature have a huge impact on cortisol, growth hormone and melatonin production. These hormones help the body heal and restore preventing diseases such as cancer and the common cold from taking hold of our bodies.

• The other benefit of a lower core temperature is weight loss. A cooler body creates and then burns brown fat to maintain a stable temperature for sleep. A hotter body produces cortisol and gets stuck in this stress-response. Whilst burning brown fat equals weight loss, surviving on high-levels of cortisol equals fat storage.

2. Wealthier

• Whilst only 8% of people sleep regularly in their birthday suit, those that do, appear to be wealthier than the average pyjama-wearing person. Perhaps its all the money they’ve saved on nightclothes?

• Learning to feel more comfortable in your own skin at night could help you ooze confidence during the day too. And confident people get the job, earn more and get promoted more often then their less confident co-workers.

• Sleeping in the nude improves your sleep quality, which means you’ll cope better with stress, make better decisions and be less likely to make mistakes. Bam! You’re making more money already and all you did was take your clothes off!

If health and wealth aren’t enough to make you strip down, then perhaps the promise of feeling happier will? Oxytocin is a ‘feel good’ hormone that is released when we have skin-on-skin contact. Holding hands, hugging and cuddling with your loved one could mean you feel happier all night and all day long.

If you’re sleeping in the nude, good quality bedding becomes more important than ever, right? Sealy’s soft, breathable sheets are made from 100% cotton percale, with a 300 thread count.