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In Detail: Products for Better Sleep

Jennifer Marks, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, October 26, 2010

Allied HomeAllied Home brought out a variety of new knitted fabric covers.
NEW YORK - The latest batch of products coming out of the comfort sleep corner of the utility bedding industry are big on patents, partnerships and new technologies.
     At the foam end of the sleep solutions segment, cooling gel technology is the latest arrival, with gel beads infused into memory foam. Sleep Innovations has a patent pending on its gel technology, which it says takes memory foam to a new level.
     "Its advantages include better air fl ow for a cooler night's sleep, more balanced support resulting in less cradling, optimal pressure point relief for improved circulation and better spinal alignment," said Mike Loomis, vp of business and product development at Sleep Innovations.
     Hudson Industries says its gel foam product called Polar Foam has been proven in tests to be four times cooler than regular foam. "That's the direction I think all foam products are going," said Lonnie Schepps, vp, sales and marketing.
     But gel foam technology is not without its detractors, whose primary rap against it is tear strength.
     Homedics is one company that chose not to go down the gel path and instead focused its efforts elsewhere. It partnered with Cargil to create its patented Eco Therapy line of comfort products, whose eco-derived components account for up to 20% of an items content. The previous standard for "eco foam" variations - most often soy - has been in the low single digits, according to Tab Morrin {SP}, Homedics' general manager of specialty sleep.
     Also new is Sleep Advantage, a mattress and pillow line that combines traditional foam with a new technology foam that can be structured like ersatz coils to allow cooling air flow without sacrificing support.
     "What we're hearing from consumers is they're just looking for comfort," said Morrin.
     Future Foam - the new finished products division of a 52- year-old foam manufacturer serving the furniture trade - is launching in December a new line called Foam Enhance that eliminates odors using by incorporate baking soda into the foam technology. Also headed to market is Fusion, a line constructed from both foam and fiber to create "an exceptionally high air flow," said Joe Blazar, director of marketing and product developent, consumer products division.
     While Carpenter Company continues to innovate its foam formulations - the latest combines Isotonic's foam with Carpenter proprietary foam for the Isotonic platinum line - a big emphasis at the recent market was on performance fabrics.
     "With the price of cotton in so high, you can now get some really great poly/cotton fabrics that breathe, have a great hand and are cost-efficient," said Dan Schecter, vp, sales and marketing. "They're not hot anymore. As these blends make their way into ready-to-wear I think we're going to see them more and more in home."
     Allied Home also put the spotlight on fabrications for its patent-pending Comfy Bed mattress pad line.
     "We've introduced a group of knitted fabrics," said Andy Schantz, ceo and chief product offi cer. "It renews the bed and is almost identical to fabrics used on the mattress."
     Perfect Fit Industries' biggest introduction at market was a new line called Odor Out that uses technology from the carpet industry to eliminate odors. The product is also anti-microbial with stain-repelling and stain-release properties.
     "It has a lot of end uses [beyond utility bedding] - slipcovers, sheets, dog beds ... " said Jeff Chilton, president.
     The company is also looking for broader-than-traditional placement for its new lithium battery powered warming throw, whose two rechargeable, Blackberry- sized packs can run up to seven hours, depending upon the setting. Beyond the home throw use, Perfect Fit sees a place for the throw in the sporting goods (think football games) and hunting arenas.
     Soft-Tex expanded on its FDA-approved Sona anti-snore pillow, developing side, back and stomach sleepers.
"Unlike the traditional fill story, we engineered very specific baffle systems to focus on certain sleep styles, then had them sleep-lab tested," said Bob O'Connell, executive vp of sales and marketing.
     "Unlike the traditional fi ll story, we engineered very specifi c baffl e systems to focus on certain sleep styles, then had them sleep-lab tested." -BOB O'CONNELL, Soft-Tex
     At United Feather & Down, the new Dr. Maas line - developed in conjunction with sleep researcher Dr. James Maas - refi ned and expanded. It will ship in November, just as Maas hits the national talk show circuit to promote his new book, "Sleep for Success." UF&D also added allergy relief to the line as well as a stress-relief story that features hot and cold packs in the product.
     "He is so well-known," said Bob Hickman, senior vp, sales and marketing. "He's on the front and the back of the product."
     Louisville Bedding recently debuted its Side Sleeper Solution Pillow, which promises to eliminate numb arms and neck soreness, reduces snoring, and reduce pressure from the shoulder, neck and head. But the bigger focus was on presenting solutions as its own category and showing the range of Louisville products that address the matter.
     "Bringing them all together really showed the breadth and depth of product we do. We obviously have solutions based product out there - waterproof mattress pads, body pillows, dust-mite and allergen reduction items, etc. ," said Mandy Talbert, brand and communications manager.
     Hollander's big introduction was with Homedics line, in conjunction with the brand. Within the line, "the breathability products with the mess gusset was the biggest hit," said Beth Mack, chief merchandising officer.
     "Homedics tells a sleep story in a comfortable way, not in a techie way," she said.
     London Luxury packed a lot of technological innovation into its Sharper Image line at the recent market, getting good response to its So Cool collection with Outlast technology as well as its Dual Temperature comforter with Thinsulate.
     "Sharper Image is sleep solutions," said Amanda Keller, director of licensing and marketing.

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