Temperature-controlled pillow and mattress ‘trick’ you into sleep

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The secret to a good night’s sleep could be in the temperature of specific areas of your bedding.

Researchers from the University of Texas have developed a bedding system that “tricks” your body into sleep 58 percent faster than normal by heating and cooling parts of the mattress and pillow.

The unique technology strategically cools in the central areas of the body, while heating up the neck, hands and feet.

According to UT scientists, this increases blood flow to dissipate body heat, which makes people feel sleepy.

The researchers published the study in the Journal of Sleep Research, looking at two versions of the mattress: one that uses water and another that uses air to manipulate the core body temperature.

Scientists tested the mattresses with 11 people, asking them to go to bed two hours earlier than usual, some nights using the cooling-warming functions of the mattresses and other nights not.

Two styles of mattresses were developed, with one using water to adjust the temperature, and the other using air.

The temperature of your mattress and pillow could impact your sleep.
Unfortunately, it’s unknown how much the system might cost or when it might become available.
The University of Texas at Austi
Researchers found participants fell asleep 58 percent faster than normal using the technology.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Researchers explained in the study that one style of mattress utilized circulating water to create and control the two temperature zones of the mattress, and the other style utilized airflow to create and control the two temperature zones of the mattress.

“The system of these two mattress styles makes use of separate cooling and warming sources that are independently regulated,” they said.

The mattress cools the central areas of the body to 77 degrees Fahrenheit and heats up the neck, hands, and feet to 91 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The findings show that lowering internal body temperature significantly shortens the time it took the subjects to fall asleep and also improved the quality of sleep.

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering had looked at the link between temperature and sleep before, conducting a study in 2019 finding taking a warm bath an hour or two before bed helped people fall asleep quickly and sleep better.

In a follow on from this study, scientists found lowering the internal body temperature at the right point of the sleep cycle helps people fall asleep. The study says targeting important bodily sensors in the areas that control heat dissipation makes more sense than focusing on the entire body and results in helping sleep.

“It is remarkable how effective gentle warming along the cervical spine is in sending a signal to the body to increase blood flow to the hands and feet to lower the core temperature and precipitate sleep onset,” Kenneth Diller, a professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering explained.

“This same effect also enables the blood pressure to fall slightly overnight, with the benefit of allowing the cardiovascular system to recover from the stress of maintaining blood flow during daily activities, which is highly important for long-term health.”

Unfortunately, it’s not known how much the system might cost or when it might become available, although the researchers now have a patent for the technology.