I’ve battled with occasional bouts of sleeplessness for years; it’s now to the point where, when sleep evades me, I’ve given up on sleep aids and bedtimes and such. I just go to sleep when I think I can sleep, and that’s that. But a recent article in the LA Times tells me I’m doing it wrong, just like most people who suffer from insomnia. Instead of reaching for the Unisom or staring at the ceiling, we should be a little more cool about things.
A study by Dr. Eric Nofzinger and Dr. Daniel Buysse of the Sleep Neuroimaging Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine shows that wearing a cap outfitted with a liquid cooling system (probably not unlike the kind you might find in a PC) lets people with insomnia fall asleep faster and stay asleep most of the night. Results were comparable to a control group of people without insomnia, with non-sleepers falling to sleep within 13 minutes and staying asleep for 89% of their time in bed, versus the control group’s 16-minute average time for falling asleep and remaining so for 89% of the time.
According to Nofzinger and Buysse, the cooling cap is effective because it slows metabolism in the frontal cortex–an area of the brain that shows increased metabolism in insomniacs. Nofzinger is optimistic about the results (and frankly, so am I); he says frontal cerebral thermal transfer “has far-reaching implications for how insomnia can be managed in the future,” and that’s pretty cool.