AUSTIN (KXAN) — Do you have trouble falling asleep quickly? Bioengineers at the University of Texas at Austin created something that could help.
It’s a mattress and pillow system that warms and cools the body in specific areas to trigger a sleepy feeling, according to a release from UT.
UT explained sleep happens when the body temperature declines at night. So, the mattress and pillows work to cool the central areas of the body while heating the neck, hands and feet. This increases blood flow to dissipate heat.
The neck is an “important bodily thermostat” and is targeted specifically by the pillow.
“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.
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.