Temp-controlled mattress taps into body thermostat to lull you to sleep
As part of the circadian rhythms that act as our 24-hour body clock and govern many aspects of our physical and mental states, our body temperature begins to decline when bedtime approaches. Scientists have designed a smart mattress designed to tap into this phenomenon and coax you into a deep slumber, with some promising results from an early trial.
Engineered by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, the mattress is designed to trigger sleepy sensations in users through carefully placed cooling and heating elements. It is based on the idea that lowering the internal body temperature at night can signal to the body that it is sleep time, but this does need to be done in a carefully orchestrated way, as the team demonstrates.
The dual-zone mattress and warming pillow are designed to cool central areas of the body, while at the same time actually heating up the hands, feet and the neck, which is an important bodily thermostat for humans. This has the effect of boosting blood flow and improving the dissipation of body heat, therefore more effectively regulating body temperature.
“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,” said study author Kenneth Diller. “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."
Two versions of the mattress were put to the test in a small trial with 11 subjects: one that uses water and one that uses air to control body temperature. The participants were made to go to bed two hours earlier than usual, and some nights the cooling and warming functions were put to use, while on others they were not. The scientists found the cooling-warming function made the subjects fall sleep approximately 58% faster than the nights when it was not in use, and also led to an improved quality of sleep.
The team is looking to build on these promising results by partnering with mattress companies to produce a commercial version of the technology, and has filed a patent to that end.
The research was published in the Journal of Sleep Research, while the video below offers an overview of the technology.
Source: University of Texas at Austin
Please keep comments to less than 150 words. No abusive material or spam will be published.