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How this new mattress can help you fall asleep faster

Not only did it help people nod off faster, but it also improved their quality of sleep.

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A look at the heating and cooling sections of the mattress using a thermal camera. (University of Texas via SWNS)

By Danny Halpin via SWNS

A new high-tech mattress tricks people into falling asleep faster by manipulating the body's core temperature.

Our body temperature changes according to a natural 24-hour rhythm and a lower core temperature helps to trigger sleepiness.

The new mattress lowers core temperature by, counterintuitively, warming up the neck with a special pillow, which helps stimulate blood flow towards the hands and feet and means that heat dissipates faster.

Dr. Shabab Haghayegh of the University of Texas, Austin, who led the development of the mattress, said: “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.”

The engineers looked at two versions of the mattress, one that uses water and another that uses air to manipulate body temperature.

They then tested the mattresses on 11 subjects, asking them to go to bed two hours earlier than usual and to use the cooling-warming functions of the mattress some nights and other nights not.

On average people fell asleep 58 percent faster when they used the cooling-warming functions compared with when they didn’t, despite going to bed two hours early.

And not only did it help them nod off faster but it also improved their quality of sleep.

The project is the latest from the lab of Professor Kenneth Diller of the Cockrell School of Engineering which seeks to find new ways of helping people sleep using heat.

In 2019 the researchers published a study that found taking a warm bath an hour or two before bed helped people fall asleep faster.

The current project, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, is similar in that it aims to lower the internal body temperature at just the right time so it sends the signal to go to sleep.

Prof Diller added: “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.

“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.”

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