Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

Lark and Sleep Number Pillow Review

By Daddy Clay Monday, July 25th, 2011

Hey, parents, when was the last time you slept until you woke up, naturally, without an assist from kids or alarm clocks? For me, the answer is yesterday, and it was such a rare occasion that I had to reflect on it. From the birth of my oldest child thirteen years ago, until this week, I guess there have only been a handful of such days. When the kids were younger, there were the usual disruptions — crying infants, toddlers terrified of the closet, bouts of barfing, kids that had to be coaxed out of bed on schooldays but pounced on your chest at 6 AM on weekends.

As the kids aged out of nocturnal nuttiness, I rediscovered exercise, but our busy schedules required that I get my workouts in before the sun rose, even on weekends. So days when I awake naturally are extremely rare. As I’ve struggled to regain a bit of health, well-being, and lose weight, I’ve read quite a bit on the subject. Tons of the research in this area indicates the importance of sleep. Loss of sleep leads to all sorts of health problems and contributes weight gain.

I struggled mightily to roll my bedtime back from 11:30 to 10:45, but I still have a hard time making myself wrap things up and head for bed. The alarm goes off at 5:15 on long run days and 5:45 at the latest. Averaging just over six hours a night. Not good.

I can do better, and I’ve turned to the internet to get help. TechCrunch pops up in my feed reader fairly often and it was from that bunch that I first read about the Lark. The Lark is an alarm and sleep measurement gadget that works with your iPhone to not only wake you up, but to improve the quality of your sleep. It retails for $129. The sleeper downloads an iPhone app, wears the watch-size sensor, and hits the hay.


For the last two years, I’ve jerked out of sleep and spasmed to turn off the alarm before it awakened my snoozing spouse. The value of the Lark is apparent the first time the lightly buzzing wrist unit quietly wakes you. My morning runs are now guilt free. Be warned, the oscillator in the device is a bit buzzy — certainly less noisy than an alarm clock, but possibly capable of awakening a nearby light sleeper.

When the alarm is turned off via the iPhone app, the sleeper is presented with the night’s data: time spent asleep, number of awakenings during the night. You’re even get a grade — I’m mostly OK, with a Fair or Poor mixed in.  I’ve logged only one Very Well. After a week of data is collected, users are treated to full-blown analysis of their sleep quality. This analysis is available on an ongoing basis for users that pony up a subscription see of about $60 a year.

The report is a bit cookie cutter, though cleverly written (even referencing the Meyes-Briggs personality type it so resembles). There are concrete take-aways that I am trying to put in place — more consistent bed times, darker bedroom.  Data junkies like me will love this thing, for the geek factor and the spouse pleasing potential.

My quality of sleep has also been improved by my Sleep Number Pillow. No, I don’t have a Pillow Number, but my head-holder is highly customized. Purchasers of this pillow system choose an inner core, an outer core and a cover. I’m a side sleeper with allergies (including an allergy to feather down), so I chose a memory foam core, an anti-microbial silver infused down alternative for the outer layer, and the In Balance temperature regulating cover. The result is a nicely firm and supportive pillow, and this temperature regulation feature is amazing. Somehow this pillow feels like it’s ten degrees cooler than the room when you lie down, and I’ve never since awakened to flip the pillow for the cooler side. It seems that the cover conducts and dissipates the heat energy.

Even though vacation has helped my sleep overall, I pine for my Sleep Number Pillow. No a/c here on Cape Cod, and I would love to put the temperature regulation to the test. Being away from my pillow has been proof positive how much I love it. If I had to pay for the pillow (Sleep Number provided me a pillow to test), it would set me back $169 — which seems pretty high for a pillow. I wouldn’t give you mine for that much, so you’ll need to give your money directly to Sleep Number.

Overall, I am liking what the Lark and the Sleep Number Pillow are doing for my nights.

Sleep Number Pillow Sweepstakes

By Erica Thursday, June 30th, 2011

New dads need to make the most of the time they get in bed.  Get the most sleep you can by using a custom Sleep Number Pillow.  These things are awesome.  Pick the pillow core, outer layer and cover. Daddy Clay loves his (foam core, silver infused outer layer, temperature regulating outer layer).

Sleep Number Pillow

Sleep Number Pillow

The folks at Sleep Number are giving away a custom Sleep Number pillow to one lucky DadLabs viewer. Go to this link to enter and type DadLabs in the referring blog box:

They will select one winner from the DadLabs entries. Good luck!

Parenting News: Childhood Obesity, TV and Sleep, Developmental Delays, Parenting Experts, Sleepaway Camp

By Dad News Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Pediatricians Suggest ‘Media Diet’ for Obese Kids: “Children see thousands of food ads a year on TV in this country. How fair is that to our kids? Do we want our children and teenagers to grow up healthy? Then we need to stop advertising unhealthy foods to them,” Strasburger said. He says the ads for junk food contribute to kids developing poor eating habits in childhood and later in life. (ABC News)

How Does a Baby Get to Be Obese?: Poor diet, huge portion sizes, lack of physical activity, inadequate sleep and uninformed parents are contributing to larger numbers of overweight or obese young children. (

Content, Timing of TV Can Take Toll on Kids’ Sleep: If your preschooler can’t sleep — turn off the violence and nighttime TV. That’s the message in a new study that found sleep problems are more common in 3- to 5-year-olds who watch television after 7 p.m. Watching shows with violence — including kids’ cartoons — also was tied to sleeping difficulties. (USA Today)

Many Pediatricians Aren’t Testing Tots for Developmental Delays: Although there’s been some improvement in the number of pediatricians checking toddlers for developmental delays, more than half still don’t routinely do so, a new study finds. (HealthDay)

Why Everyone’s a Parenting Expert: With summer here and kids at home, there’s a whole new set of parenting decisions that other parents (and even non-parents) feel obligated to judge. In many cases, the parental “sins” seem arbitrary. Chicago clinical psychologist John Duffy has one client whose own parents call her a “slave driver” for requiring her 12-year-old daughter to mow the lawn as a summer chore. Another family gets flak from friends for letting their son play a few hours of video games on summer days. (LiveScience)

Is Visitors Day for Parents at Sleepaway Camp More Trouble Than It’s Worth?: As many full-summer programs have been trimmed back from eight weeks to six or seven, are parent visiting days worth the trouble? Absolutely, camp directors said, though some acknowledged most kids could likely live without them. (Washington Post)

Parenting News: Kiddie Pools, Guns, Food Allergies, Prenatal Care for Dads, Perfect Parenting, Nighttime Headbanging

By Dad News Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Study: Portable Kiddie Pools Kill a Child Every Five Days: Colorful kiddie pools look innocuous enough, but a new study finds that a child drowns in an inflatable, portable pool every five days in warm-weather months. (

Making Sure Child’s Play Doesn’t Turn Into Gunplay: When arranging their child’s next play date, American parents may want to ask if there are any unlocked guns in the prospective playmate’s home. The reason: almost 2 million American homes with kids contain unlocked, loaded guns, experts say, and dozens of kids die each year from unintentional shootings.

Study: Food Allergies More Common, More Severe Among Children: A new study in the journal Pediatrics reaffirms this growing problem of food allergies among young people. Researchers found that 8% of children under 18 in the United States have at least one food allergy. In the past, estimates had ranged from 2% to 8%, adding to the growing body of evidence that increasingly more children have food allergies. (

Should Prenatal Care Be Extended to Dads?: Perhaps it’s because mom has the burgeoning belly, but dads have largely been left out of prenatal care. That could be damaging to the family’s health, contends research in a recent issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing. (

Can Being Too Perfect a Parent Mess Up Your Kids?: Author and therapist Lori Gottlieb recently stirred up a little parenting controversy when she penned a story for The Atlantic in which she makes the case that providing your kid with too perfect of a childhood could be harmful to them as they hit adulthood. (ParentDish)

Are Your Kids Night-Time Head-Bangers?: “She is banging her head up and down every night, sometimes hitting the headboard. It is scaring her parents to death because, well, it is kind of creepy, and they are afraid that she has psychiatric problems, not to mention, they are worried she could hurt herself.” (