Objective: To evaluate the possibility that infants sleeping in the prone position have higher arousal thresholds to auditory challenges than when sleeping in the supine position.
Study design: Polygraphic recordings were performed for 1 night in 25 healthy infants with a median age of 9 weeks. The infants were exposed to white noises of increasing intensities while sleeping successively in the prone and supine positions, or vice versa. Arousal thresholds were defined by the auditory stimuli needed to induce polygraphic arousals.
Results: Three infants were excluded from the study because they awoke while their position was being changed. For the 22 infants included in the analysis, more intense auditory stimuli were needed to arouse the infants in the prone position than those in the supine body position (p = 0.011). Arousal thresholds were higher in the prone than in the supine position in 15 infants; unchanged in 4 infants; and lower in the prone position in 3 infants (p = 0.007).
Conclusions: Infants show higher arousal thresholds to auditory challenges when sleeping in the prone position than when sleeping in the supine position. The finding could be relevant to mechanisms concerned with the reported association between sudden deaths and the prone sleeping position in infants.