AUSTIN (KXAN) — Have you ever felt so tired but struggled to fall asleep once your head hit the pillow?
That’s what one man was experiencing when he decided to research a solution.
Now, he and his team at the University of Texas at Austin have developed technology said to trick your body into falling asleep faster.
UT explained sleep is possible when your body temperature declines at night.
So, bioengineers have rigged a mattress and pillow to warm and cool the body in specific areas to stimulate a sleepy feeling.
The system cools the body’s core while heating the neck, hands and feet. This, they explained, increases blood flow to dissipate heat.
The neck is an “important bodily thermostat” and is targeted specifically by the pillow, according to the release.
“We facilitate the readiness to fall asleep by manipulating internal body temperature-sensitive sensors to briefly adjust the thermostat of the body, so it thinks the temperature is higher than it actually is,” said Shahab Haghayegh, who helped develop the mattress at UT while earning a doctorate in biomedical engineering.
Researchers published a study about the sleep system in the Journal of Sleep Research. Two versions of the mattress were documented — one that uses water and another that uses air to change the core body temperature.
The mattresses were evaluated with 11 subjects, UT said. They were asked to go to bed two hours earlier than normal, only using the mattress functions on some nights.
The study found the warming and cooling of the mattress system helped them fall asleep about 58% faster compared to nights they didn’t use it. UT said the quality of sleep also improved when using the warming and cooling settings.
They also plan to test the mattress on people who have been diagnosed with sleep disorders.
The research team has a patent for the mattress and pillows and is looking to partner with mattress companies to get it out to the public.
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