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United States Patent Application 20160120253
Kind Code A1
Schenk; Christopher May 5, 2016

Head Encircling Sensory Deprivation Pillow

Abstract

A sleep-enhancing device comprising an elongated pillow that wraps around the eyes and ears of the user and is thick enough to enable the user to rest their head on a hard surface without any part of their face touching the hard surface.


Inventors: Schenk; Christopher; (Los Angeles, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Schenk; Christopher

Los Angeles

CA

US
Family ID: 1000001687109
Appl. No.: 14/929375
Filed: November 1, 2015


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
13389240Feb 6, 2012
14929375

Current U.S. Class: 2/173
Current CPC Class: A42B 1/061 20130101; A47G 9/10 20130101; A47G 2009/1018 20130101; A42B 1/008 20130101; A42B 1/245 20130101; A42B 1/068 20130101
International Class: A42B 1/06 20060101 A42B001/06; A42B 1/00 20060101 A42B001/00; A42B 1/24 20060101 A42B001/24; A47G 9/10 20060101 A47G009/10

Claims



1. A sleep-enhancing device, comprising: an elongated pillow, the elongated pillow comprising: an outer shell of a generally tubular shape, the outer shell comprising a first end and a second end, the length of the outer shell being slightly greater than the circumference of an average person's head; a soft stuffing material evenly disposed on the interior of the outer shell; a first fastener on the first end; a second fastener on the second end; wherein the first fastener and the second fastener can attach to each other; wherein the elongated pillow is configured to fully encompass a user's head; wherein the elongated pillow can conform to the shape of a user's nose without leaving any gaps through which light can leak in; wherein the elongated pillow portion, when compressed by the weight of approximately 45N, is more than 2.5 cm thick.

2. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the elongated pillow blocks at least 8 decibels of sound.

3. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the elongated pillow is approximately 36 inches long, 4.5 inches high, and 3 inches thick when uncompressed.

4. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the soft stuffing material is selected from the group consisting of down, microbeads, air, foam, cotton and wool.

5. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the soft stuffing material is polyfiber fill.

6. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the elongated pillow is opaque to light.

7. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the outer shell is made of polyester fleece.

8. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the outer shell is made of a material selected from the group consisting of woven fabrics, nonwoven fabrics, corduroy, velvet, polyester, cotton, linen, nylon, broadcloth, buckram, bunting, calico, artificial leather, felt, hide/leather, natural rubber, tyvek.

9. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the outer shell is made of an airtight material and the soft stuffing material is air.

10. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 9, wherein the airtight material is plastic film.

11. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the internal cross-sectional area of the outer shell is approximately the same along the length of the outer shell.

12. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener and the second fastener are hook and loop fasteners.

13. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener and the second fasteners are selected from the group consisting of hooks, magnets, snaps, ties, buttons.

14. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener and the second fastener may be attached in at least two different positions.

15. The sleep-enhancing device of claim 1, further comprising at least one of the following group: speakers; a heating element insert; a scented insert.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 13/389,240, filed Feb. 6, 2012, which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention generally relates to pillows; more particularly, the present invention relates to sleep-enhancing devices for resting a user's head while occluding light and sound during use.

[0004] 2. Background

[0005] A full and restful sleep period is necessary to a full and productive waking period. However, an individual often sleeps in a situation that is uncomfortable, bright and/or noisy. For example, traveling businesspeople often find it necessary to sleep in loud, bright and uncomfortable airplanes, and college students often find it necessary to nap and/or sleep at their library tables, desks or student centers. Unfortunately, the sleep achieved in such situations is often interrupted by light, noise and discomfort, thereby limiting the benefits of the sleep period.

[0006] Many devices have been invented with the intention of occluding sleep-distracting stimuli, including light and noise. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 2,537,768 to Laporte ("Laporte"), which is entirely incorporated herein by reference, teaches an eye mask with a strap means of securing around a user's head, to which are attached ear plugging means. While the device of Laporte occludes both light and sound, the device requires that unsanitary and uncomfortable earplugs be inserted into the user's ears, and further fails to provide any means of padding for the user's head, thereby necessitating the user to use a separate expensive and bulky pillow device to attain comfortable conditions for sleep.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,343,561 to Adamo ("Adamo"), which is entirely incorporated herein by reference, teaches an eye mask with a method for attachment around a user's ears. Although this device can occlude sound, its elastic means of attachment is impractical and uncomfortable. The device of Adamo also discloses a separate "U" shaped device to be worn around a user's neck to provide neck support. However, the "U" shaped device is limiting in the variety of sleeping positions it affords a user, and would be of little use if it were to be displaced in sleep. Further, having two separate units is inconvenient to pack and transport, expensive to manufacture and complicated to use.

[0008] A number of inventions have disclosed devices that can both insulate a user from sleep-distracting events, including noise and light, while providing concurrent padding for a user's head. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,651,256 to Swift ("Swift"), which is entirely incorporated herein by reference, teaches a wearable pillow device to be worn in the manner of a helmet. The device of Swift incorporates a light-occluding portion and a head-surrounding pillow portion. However, this device is bulky, expensive to manufacture, complicated to wear and impractical to transport and use. Further, this device is supplemented by a "U" shaped pillow portion to support a user's head, thereby limiting the variety of the user's possible sleeping positions.

[0009] As another example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,088,836 to de Cordova ("de Cordova"), which is entirely incorporated herein by reference, teaches a sleep enhancing device to be worn around a user's head, the device having a light occlusion portion attached to a padded head rest wrap-around pillow portion. While de Cordova teaches a means of light and noise occlusion and a means of padding for the sides and back of the user's head, its construction is complicated and expensive to manufacture. Further, its design requires that it be worn in strict orientation on a user's head, and as such, its effectiveness is compromised when displaced during sleep. Most importantly, the device of de Cordova fails to provide a means of padding for the front portion of a user's head, rendering the device ineffective and uncomfortable for a user sleeping in a position in which the front portion of the user's head and face, such as the user's forehead, ocular regions, nasal regions, cheekbones and temple regions, are resting against a firm surface (e.g., desk).

[0010] Generally, there are limitations associated with prior art sleep-enhancing devices. For example, prior art sleep enhancing devices are uncomfortable and complicated to use, inconvenient to transport, expensive to manufacture, can be rendered ineffective if shifted during use, and can fail to provide sufficient padding for a user's head during use.

[0011] There is thus a need for improved sleep enhancing devices.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] An object of the present invention is to provide a sleep-enhancing device that provides comfort for a user who is resting their head on a hard surface.

[0013] Another object of the present invention is to provide a sleep-enhancing device that blocks any light from entering the user's eyes.

[0014] Another object of the present invention is to provide a sleep-enhancing device that blocks some sound from entering the user's ears.

[0015] The present invention comprises an elongated pillow that is of a sufficient length to fully encircle a user's head, where the elongated pillow has an outer shell of a generally tubular shape and a soft stuffing material on the interior of the outer shell, as well as fasteners on each end of the pillow to fasten it around the user's head. The elongated pillow covers the user's eyes without allowing any light to leak in around the user's nose or at any other location. The elongated pillow is thick enough when compressed by the weight of a user's head that it allows the user to rest their head on a hard surface (such as a desk or a table) without any portion of the user's face touching the hard surface.

[0016] In an embodiment, the elongated pillow is 8 cm thick when not compressed and at least 1.5 cm thick when compressed by a force of 45N (the force with which the weight of a typical human head would be compressing it).

[0017] In an embodiment, the elongated pillow blocks at least 8 dB of sound when worn over the user's ears.

[0018] The outer shell of the elongated pillow is preferably made of polyester fleece, but may also be made of corduroy, velvet, polyester, cotton, linen, nylon, broadcloth, buckram, bunting, calico, artificial leather, felt, hide/leather, natural rubber, Tyvek, or any other fabric that is soft and does not irritate the skin.

[0019] The soft stuffing material of the elongated pillow is preferably polyfiber fill, but may also be down, microbeads, air, foam, cotton or wool.

[0020] In an embodiment, the internal cross-sectional area of the outer shell is approximately the same along the entire length of the outer shell.

[0021] In an embodiment, the fasteners are hook-and-loop fasteners; they may also be hooks, magnets, snaps, buttons, or ties.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0022] The novel features of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. A better understanding of the features and advantages of the present invention will be obtained by reference to the following detailed description that sets forth illustrative embodiments, in which the principles of the invention are utilized, and the accompanying drawings of which:

[0023] FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a sleep-enhancing device, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The sleep enhancing device is attached to the user by way of a hook-and-loop type fastener;

[0024] FIG. 2 is a schematic front view of a sleep-enhancing device when not mounted to a user's head, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

[0025] FIG. 3 is a schematic side view of a sleep-enhancing device when not affixed to a user's head, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

[0026] FIG. 4 is a schematic side view of a sleep-enhancing device when not affixed to a user's head, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

[0027] FIG. 5 is a schematic perspective view of a sleep-enhancing device, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The sleep-enhancing device can be attached to a user's head by way of an elastic fastener; and

[0028] FIG. 6 is a schematic perspective view of a sleep-enhancing device, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The sleep-enhancing device is defined by a single donut-shaped pillow member, which can slip over the top of a user's head.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0029] While preferable embodiments of the invention have been shown and described herein, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes, and substitutions will now occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. It should be understood that various alternatives to the embodiments of the invention described herein can be employed in practicing the invention.

[0030] In embodiments of the invention, sleep-enhancing devices (also "rest-enhancing devices" herein) are provided for occluding noise and sound during sleep, while providing a user comfort in both design and use. In addition, sleep-enhancing devices of embodiments can be more economical and efficient in construction and use when compared to at least some prior art sleep-enhancing devices. Sleep-enhancing devices of embodiments can advantageously remain effective even if shifted during use, and provide substantial padding for the full lateral circumference of a user's head, thereby permitting the user a range of comfortable sleeping positions.

[0031] In various embodiments of the invention, sleep-enhancing devices are provided comprising an elongated pillow portion affixed to a flap portion with a first attachment member disposed on the flap portion. The first attachment member is complementary to a second attachment member affixed to the opposite end of the elongated pillow portion.

[0032] In an aspect of the invention, a sleep-enhancing device is provided. The sleep-enhancing device is configured to enable a user to comfortably rest the user's head against a surface while preventing light from entering the user's eyes and sound from entering the user's ears.

[0033] Reference will now be made to the figures, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout. It will be appreciated that the figures (and structures therein) are not necessarily drawn to scale.

[0034] FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 illustrate a sleep-enhancing device 10 ("device"), in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Device 10 includes an elongated pillow portion 12, a flap portion 14, and a first attachment member 16 and a second attachment member 18. The first and second attachment members (also "attachment means" herein) 16 and 18 are configured to attach (or mount) the device 10 to a user's head.

[0035] With continued reference to FIGS. 1-3, the first and second attachment members 16, 18 can be hook and loop fasteners attached to the flap portion 14 and the distal end of the pillow portion 12 from the flap portion 14, respectively. In an embodiment, the attachment members 16 and 18 can be sewn onto the flap portion 14 and the distal end of the pillow portion 12. In an embodiment, the pillow portion 12 is fabric-covered pillow fill. The flap portion 14 can be constructed of the same fabric as the cover of the pillow portion 12. When the device 10 is wrapped around a user's head to function as a wrap-around pillow, the first attachment member (also "attachment means" herein) 16 disposed upon flap portion 14 removably connects to the second attachment member 18 located on the opposite end of the elongated pillow portion 12 from the flap portion 14.

[0036] In an embodiment, the device 10 can include a cover portion that covers the pillow portion 12 of the device 10. The cover portion can be removable from the pillow portion 12.

[0037] In an embodiment, the attachment members 16 and 18 are Velcro.RTM.. In such a case, one of the first and second attachment members 16, 18 can include the hook fasteners, and the other of the first and second attachment members 16, 18 can include the loop fasteners. In another embodiment, the attachment members 16 and 18 are one of a magnet and another of a material that is attractable by the magnet. For example, the first attachment member 16 can be formed of a material configured to induce a magnetic field, such as a plate magnet, and the second attachment member 18 can be a plate (e.g., rigid plate, flexible plate) that will be attracted towards the first attachment member 16 when the attachment member are sufficiently close to one another.

[0038] In embodiments, the device 10 is of sufficient size to fit comfortably around a user's head, while covering the user's eyes and ears. In an embodiment, the device 10 is from about 71 centimeters to 100 centimeters (28 inches to 40 inches) long, as measured from the end of the pillow portion 10 and the flap portion 14, and from about 10 centimeters to 20 centimeters (4 inches to 8 inches) wide. The flap portion 14 is of sufficient length so as to allow the first attachment member 16 disposed thereupon to secure at various points to the complementary (second) attachment member 18 when the device 10 is wrapped around the user's head, thereby allowing the user to adjust the tension of the device 10 around the user's head.

[0039] In an embodiment, the device 10 and components of the device 10 can be made of a natural or synthetic fabric, or any other sufficiently flexible and strong material, such as a polymeric material, plastic films, inflatable rubbers, leathers, and the like. In an embodiment, the material is selected so as to provide comfortable padding to the user's head while sufficiently scattering light away from the user's eyes and sound away from the user's ears. For instance, the material comprising the covering of the elongated pillow portion 12 and the flap portion 14 can be made of a natural or synthetic fabric or any other sufficiently flexible and strong material. The stuffing of the elongated pillow portion 12 can be composed of any material of sufficient softness so as to provide comfortable padding for the user's head (including eyes and ears), such as any variety of natural or synthetic pillow fill, foam, air, feathers, down, microbeads, husks and the like. The attachment members 16, 18 can be any type of attachment means of sufficient strength so as to keep the device fastened together, such as hook-and-loop fasteners, ties, buttons, snaps, clips, hook and eye fasteners, magnetic plates of opposite polarity, or a combination of a magnetic plate and a material attractable to the magnetic plate.

[0040] With reference to FIG. 1, a method of attaching the device 10 to a user's head includes the user wrapping the device 10 around the user's head and securing the device 10 to the user's head by bringing the first attachment member 16 in contact with the second attachment member 18. In such a case, the device 10 can be secured comfortably around the lateral circumference of the user's head, covering the user's eyes and ears, and is held in place by the conjoining of fastening members 16, 18.

[0041] The first and second attachment members 16 and 18 can be sized and positioned so as to provide a user flexibility in the manner in which the device 10 is attached to the user's head. For instance, the attachment members 16 and 18 can be configured to permit the user to attach the device 10 to the user's head with only a portion of the first attachment member 16 being in contact with the second attachment member 18.

[0042] With reference to FIG. 3, the flap portion 14 has a thickness that is smaller than a thickness of the elongated pillow portion 10. In embodiments, the thickness of the flap portion 14 is from about 0.3 centimeters to 5 centimeters (1/8 inches to 2 inches) and the thickness of the elongated pillow portion 10 is from about 5 centimeters to 13 centimeters (2 inches to 5 inches).

[0043] In various embodiments, the length of any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can be adjustable. In an embodiment, the length of the flap portion 14 is adjustable. In such a case, the sleep-enhancing device can be configured to function with various sized heads. In an embodiment, the flap portion 14 can be configured to extend out of and retract into the pillow portion 12 of the device. This advantageously permits a user to adjust the length of the device 10 to conform to the user's head.

[0044] With reference to FIG. 4, in other embodiments, a sleep-enhancing device 20 is depicted. Device 20 is comprised of an elongated pillow portion 22 and two attachment members, a first attachment member 24 and a second attachment member 26. In an embodiment, the attachment members 24, 26 can identical to the attachment members 16, 18 described above.

[0045] In an embodiment, the attachment members 24, 26 are hook and loop fasteners (e.g., Velcro.RTM.) sewn onto the ends of the pillow portion 22, and the pillow portion 22 is a fabric-covered pillow fill. In an embodiment, the pillow portion 22 is formed of a pillow-fill material and covered with a fabric. When the device 20 is wrapped around a user's head to function as a wrap-around pillow, the first attachment member 24 removably connects to the second attachment member 26.

[0046] With continued reference to FIG. 4, the device 20 is of sufficient size to comfortably around a user's head, while covering the user's eyes and ears. In an embodiment, the device 20 can be from about 71 centimeters to 100 centimeters (28 inches to 40 inches) long, as measured rom the end of the ends of the device 20, and from about 10 centimeters to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) wide. The attachment members 24, 26 can be of sufficient length so as to secure at various points to each other when the device 20 is wrapped around the user's head, thereby allowing the user to adjust the tension of the device 20 around the user's head. In an embodiment, with a portion of the first attachment member 24 being in contact with the second attachment member 26, the device 20 can be securely attached to the user's head.

[0047] In an embodiment, the device 20 can include a cover portion that covers the pillow portion 22 of the device 20. The cover portion can be removable from the pillow portion 22.

[0048] In an embodiment, the device the device 20, including the pillow portion 22, can be formed of stuffing material enclosed by a covering material. The material comprising the covering of the elongated pillow portion 22 can include a natural or synthetic fabric or any other sufficiently flexible and strong material, such as plastic films, inflatable rubbers, leathers, and the like. The stuffing of the elongated pillow portion 22 can be comprised of any material of sufficient softness so as to provide comfortable padding for the user's head, such as any variety of synthetic pillow fill, foam, air, feathers, down, microbeads, husks and the like. The attachment members 24, 26 can be any type of attachment means of sufficient strength so as to keep the device fastened together, such as hook-and-loop fasteners, ties, buttons, snaps, clips, hook and eye fasteners, magnetic plates of opposite polarity, or a combination of a magnetic plate and a material attractable to the magnetic plate.

[0049] Sleep enhancing devices of embodiments of the present invention provide devices that are effective in occluding light and noise, provide comfortable padding for the full lateral circumference of a user's head, are easy to transport, and simple and economical to construct.

[0050] Any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein (e.g., device 10 and/or device 20) can include one or more speakers on the inside portions of the devices, the one or more speakers configured to distribute sound (e.g., music) to one or both of a user's ears. In such fashion, when a user wears the sleep-enhancing device, the user can provide sound (e.g., music, radio broadcast) to one or both of the user's ears. In an embodiment, the devices can include two speakers on opposite sides of the devices, each of the speakers configured to come in contact with or be in proximity to a user's ear. In such a case, when the user wears the device (e.g., device 10 or device 20), each of the speakers is adjacent to (or in contact with) a user's ear. In an embodiment, the one or more speakers include an audio port that is configured to mate with a music device, such as an MP3 player or a radio. The audio port can be disposed in the pillow portion of the sleep-enhancing devices, such as at the periphery of the pillow portion. In certain embodiments, the one or more speakers are provided in a sleep-enhancing device that has a length-adjustable flap portion (e.g., flap portion 14). In an embodiment, the speakers are wireless and connect to the music device by Bluetooth, wi-fi, or any other wireless protocol suitable for the purpose.

[0051] Any of the devices provided herein can include pockets or chambers that are disposed upon the elongated pillow portions of the devices and that are suitable for storage of small objects, such as airplane tickets, headphones, cellular telephones, personal electronic devices (e.g., iPod.RTM., iPhone.RTM.) and money.

[0052] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include small pockets disposed upon the elongated pillow device, which serve to contain headphones, allowing a user to listen to music comfortably while wearing the device.

[0053] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include one or more holes or ports to permit a user to direct one or more headphones from one side of the sleep-enhancing device to another and bring the one or more headphones into contact with one or both of a user's ears. This can permit a user to use an audio device (e.g., MP3 player), a smart phone, or any other electronic device configured to direct an electrical signal to one or more headphones, while wearing a sleep-enhancing device of embodiments of the invention.

[0054] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include a removable flap portion, which can be replaced with flap portions of various sizes (larger or small), thereby permitting the sleep-enhancing device to fit an extended range of head sizes.

[0055] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include any combination of one or more inserts or objects that can be contained within the elongated pillow portions of the devices, including, but not limited to, vibrating inserts or vibrating objects, radios, speakers, headphones, alarm clocks, heatable/chillable inserts or objects, scented inserts or objects, magnetic inserts or objects, heating coils and electrically resistive inserts. For example, the sleep-enhancing device of any of the embodiments of the invention can include heating coils configured to come in electrical contact with a control device that provides power to the heading coils, which can provide heat to a user's head when in use.

[0056] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include a removable cover containing the elongated pillow portion. This can permit a user to remove the removable cover for washing and further use, or to customize the sleep-enhancing device to suit the user's aesthetic taste. For example, the user can replace a removable cover of one color and/or texture with a removable cover of a second color and/or texture. In an embodiment, the removable cover can be reversible. In such a case, a reverse side of the removable cover can have a texture and/or color that is different from a first side of the removable cover.

[0057] In another embodiment, sleep-enhancing devices of embodiments of the invention can include a segmented elongated pillow portion. In an embodiment, the segments can be oriented perpendicularly with respect to a long plane (i.e., a plane extending from one end of the elongated pillow portion to another) of the elongated pillow portion. In another embodiment, the segments can be oriented parallel with respect to the long plane of the elongated pillow portion.

[0058] In certain embodiments, the elongated pillow portion can include 1 or more, or 2 or more, or 3 or more, or 4 or more, or 5 or more, or 6 or more, or 7 or more, or 8 or more, or 9 or more, or 10 or more pillow individual pillow members (or pillow portions). In an embodiment, if the elongated pillow portion includes 2 or more pillow members, the 2 or more pillow members can be attached to one another with the aid of attachment or fastening members, such as fastening members having fixed lengths (e.g., stitches, strings, staples), fastening members having variable lengths (e.g., elastic fastening members), or a combination of fastening members having fixed and variable lengths. In an embodiment, if the elongated pillow member includes a first attachment member and second attachment member at opposite ends of the elongated pillow, individual pillow members of the elongated pillow member can be joined with the aid of fastening members (or fasteners) having fixed lengths. For example, with the exception of individual pillow members at the ends of the elongated pillow members, individual pillow members can be sown together. For example, if the elongated pillow members includes a first, second, third and four pillow member, with the first and fourth pillow members disposed at the ends of the elongated pillow member, the first pillow member can be fastened (e.g., sewn) to the second pillow member, the second pillow member can be fastened to the third pillow member, and the third pillow member can be fastened to the fourth pillow member. The first and fourth pillow member can include attachment members. In an embodiment, either the first or fourth pillow member can include a flap portion having an attachment member. The attachment members are configured to mate with one another so as to enable a user to secure (or mount) the elongated pillow to the user's head.

[0059] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include various graphics, textures, colors and/or cosmetic attachments, such as, e.g., false ears and false eyes, disposed on the elongated pillow portion so as to make the device appealing to children. For example, a sleep-enhancing device can include cat or dog features. In an embodiment, such graphics, textures, colors and/or cosmetic attachments can be provided on a removable cover portion of the sleep-enhancing device.

[0060] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include an elastic band appended to an end of the device, such as at an end of an elongated pillow portion of the sleep-enhancing device. The elastic band is configured to contain the sleep-enhancing device when it is rolled upon itself, such as, e.g., for storage or travel.

[0061] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include a pocket attached to the flap portion of the device, so as to contain the sleep-enhancing device when it is rolled upon itself The pocket may be elastic or non-elastic.

[0062] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include container for holding a scented filling (or scented material). In such a case, a user can provide a scented filling in the container for providing a desired scent during use of the sleep-enhancing device. In an embodiment, the container is disposed in the elongated pillow portion of the sleep-enhancing device. In another embodiment, the container is disposed on a cover portion of the sleep-enhancing device. In an alternative embodiment, the container can be precluded, and the elongated pillow portion can be configured to house or contain a scented filling.

[0063] In another embodiment, any of the sleep-enhancing devices provided herein can include a container for holding a thermal storage filling. The thermal storage filling can be configured to attain an elevated or reduced temperature. In at least some cases, the thermal storage filling can be configured to maintain a desired temperature, such as a desired elevated or reduced temperature. In an embodiment, the container can be disposed in the elongated pillow portion of the sleep-enhancing device. In another embodiment, the container can be disposed in a cover portion of the sleep-enhancing device.

[0064] In an alternative embodiment of the invention, a sleep-enhancing device is provided having a pillow defined by one or more pillow members, and further including one or more elastic members disposed between two ends of the pillow. In this alternative embodiment, the attachment members (or fastening means), such as those described above, can be precluded. In an embodiment, the elastic members are nonremovably (or permanently) attached to the pillow. In a preferable embodiment, the pillow is configured to fully encircle a user's head. In an embodiment, the pillow and elastic members define a unitary (or single-piece) sleep-enhancing device. In an embodiment, the sleep-enhancing device with one or more elastic members is donut-shaped.

[0065] In an alternative embodiment of the invention, a sleep-enhancing device is provided having a pillow defined by one donut-shaped pillow member. In certain embodiments, the attachment members (or fastening means), such as those described above, can be precluded.

[0066] In another aspect of the invention, a sleep-enhancing device is provided, the sleep-enhancing device comprising a pillow with ends fastened together with the aid of fastening members.

[0067] In an embodiment, the pillow is an elongated pillow. In an embodiment, the pillow can include 1 or more, or 2 or more, or 3 or more, or 4 or more, or 5 or more, or 6 or more, or 7 or more, or 8 or more, or 9 or more, or 10 or more pillow members. In an embodiment, if the pillow includes 2 or more pillow members, the 2 or more pillow members can be attached to one another with the aid of attachment or fastening members, such as fastening members having fixed lengths (e.g., stitches, strings, staples), fastening members having variable lengths (e.g., elastic fastening members), or a combination of fastening members having fixed and variable lengths.

[0068] With reference to FIG. 5, a pillow a sleep-enhancing device 30 is provided, in accordance with embodiments of the invention. The device 30 includes an elongated pillow portion (also "elongated pillow" and "pillow portion" herein) 32 and fastening members 34. The fastening members 34 are attached to opposite ends of the elongated pillow portion 32. The pillow portion 32 can be as described above in other embodiments of the invention. While three fastening members are illustrated, the device 30 can include any number of fastening members. The device 30 is configured to encircle a user's head.

[0069] With continued reference to FIG. 5, the device 30 can include 1 or more, or 2 or more, or 3 or more, or 4 or more, or 5 or more, or 6 or more, or 7 or more, or 8 or more, or 9 or more, or 10 or more, or 15 or more, or 20 or more fastening members. For example, the device 30 can include a single fastening member 34. As another example, the device 30 can include three fastening members 34. Each of the fastening members 34 can have any length and width suitable to enable the device 30 to encircle a user's head and to remain attached to the user's head. In addition, the fastening members 34 can be elastic. The fastening members 34 can have variable lengths, permitting the device 30 to mount heads of various sizes.

[0070] With continued reference to FIG. 5, the elongated pillow portion 32 can be a plurality of pillow members. The elongated pillow portion 32 can include 2 or more, or 3 or more, or 4 or more, or 5 or more, or 10 or more, or 15 or more, or 20 or more individual pillow members. The individual pillow members can be fastened together with the aid of attachment members (not shown). In some cases, at least some of the attachment members can be elastic fastening members. If the elongated pillow portion 32 comprises a plurality of pillow members, the device 30 can include a cover member to cover the plurality of pillow members, thereby giving the elongated pillow portion 32 the look of a single-piece pillow portion.

[0071] In an alternative embodiment, the fastening members 34 can have discrete (or predefined) lengths suitable for conforming to various head circumferences. A user can adjust the length of the fastening members 34 to conform to enable the device 30 to mount the users head and cover the user's eyes and ears.

[0072] In another aspect of the invention, a single-piece sleep-enhancing device is provided.

[0073] With reference to FIG. 6, a single-piece sleep-enhancing device 40 is provided, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The device 40 includes a pillow portion 42 that is configured to encircle a user's head. The pillow portion 42 is a single donut-shaped pillow member configured to slip over the top of the user's head. The device 40 is configured to encircle a user's head.

[0074] In an embodiment, the device 40 can include a plurality of pillow members fastened together and enclosed in a cover to provide a single-piece pillow. The pillow portion 42 can include 2 or more, or 3 or more, or 4 or more, or 5 or more, or 10 or more, or 15 or more, or 20 or more individual pillow members fastened together with the aid of fastening members. At least some of the fastening members can be elastic fastening members, permitting the device 40 to conform to various head circumferences.

[0075] With continued reference to FIG. 6, the pillow portion 42 can comprise soft material configured to provide padding to a user's head while minimizing, if not eliminating, light and sound from entering a user's eyes and ears, respectively. In an embodiment, the pillow portion completely prevents light from entering the user's eyes while in use and conforms to the shape of the user's nose sufficiently to prevent light leakage around the nose.

[0076] In any embodiment of the present invention, it is preferable that the pillow portion have enough thickness so as to pad the user's head adequately when the user is resting his or her head on a hard surface (such as a table or a desk). Since a human head provides a force of about 45N when resting on a hard surface, this means that the compressed thickness of the pillow portion should be at least 1.5 cm or greater. When the pillow portion is uncompressed, it should be thick enough to block at least 8 dB of sound from reaching the user's ears--typically, this should be at least 8 cm thick, though this depends on the type of fill and the density of the fill.

[0077] The material of which the exterior of the pillow portion is made is preferably polyester fleece. It may also be made of any other woven or nonwoven fabric as long as it is sufficiently strong and soft for the purpose and does not irritate the skin. For example, polyester, cotton, linen, nylon, broadcloth, buckram, bunting, calico, corduroy, silk, satin, rayon, neoprene, acrylic, acetate, Spandex, Lastex, Kevlar, or velvet may be used.

[0078] The material filling the pillow portion is preferably an ultra-fine polyester fiber fill. It could also be any other material suitable for filling pillows as long as it is soft and compressible. For example, synthetic or natural fiber fill, shredded foam, memory foam, feathers or feather blends, Styrofoam beads, cotton, foam, down, cloth scraps, or air may be used. If air is used, the pillow portion exterior preferably comprises an airtight plastic film.

[0079] The pillow is preferably approximately 35'' in length, 4.5'' tall, and 3.5'' thick when not compressed.

[0080] While certain embodiments of the invention have been described above, it will be appreciated that embodiments of the invention can be combined with (or modified in view of) one another to provide alternative embodiments not described herein.

[0081] It should be understood from the foregoing that, while particular implementations have been illustrated and described, various modifications can be made thereto and are contemplated herein. It is also not intended that the invention be limited by the specific examples provided within the specification. While the invention has been described with reference to the aforementioned specification, the descriptions and illustrations of the preferable embodiments herein are not meant to be construed in a limiting sense.

[0082] Furthermore, it shall be understood that all aspects of the invention are not limited to the specific depictions, configurations or relative proportions set forth herein which depend upon a variety of conditions and variables. Various modifications in form and detail of the embodiments of the invention will be apparent to a person skilled in the art. It is therefore contemplated that the invention shall also cover any such modifications, variations and equivalents.

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