Conformational Positioning Improves Sleep in Premature Infants with Feeding Difficulties

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To determine whether premature infants' sleep organization, total sleep time, and arousals may be modulated while on a conformational positioner that provides boundaries, customized positioning, and containment compared with standard positioning (standard crib mattress).

Study design

A proof of concept trial using a within subject crossover design was conducted among 25 premature infants with feeding difficulties. Infants of 31.5 weeks gestational age served as their own control during overnight polysomnography at postconceptual age 38.4 weeks. Each baby received both interventions (order randomized), 1 for each one-half of the 10.5-hour study.


Use of the conformational positioner resulted in higher sleep efficiency of 61% vs 54% for the standard mattress (P < .05). The interventions did not differ for percent active sleep, percent quiet sleep, percent indeterminate sleep, or spontaneous arousals. Sleep efficiency was higher on the conformational positioner than standard positioning for surgical subjects and for subjects with necrotizing enterocolitis or gastroschisis (n = 10). The surgical subjects (n = 9) had lower sleep efficiency, lower percentage of active sleep, and more spontaneous arousals compared with the nonsurgical group.


The use of the conformational positioner improved sleep efficiency vs the standard mattress in premature infants with feeding difficulties. Infants requiring surgery or with gastrointestinal diagnoses may be more susceptible to environmental stress.

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