Chronic Catnap Challenges

Insomnia patients are offered new hope for sleep with new brain cooling cap

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A University of Pittsburgh research group has developed a device that may help non-sleepers get some rest. An evening top hat helps insomnia patients get much needed sleep.

In this crossover study, 12 people with primary insomnia and 12 healthy, age-and gender-matched controls people without insomnia were enrolled. They average age of these participants was 45.

Principal investigator and lead author Dr. Eric Nofzinger, professor and director of the Sleep Neuroimaging Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine reports that the most significant study finding is that this cooling cap can help insomnia patients get some rest by a non-pharmaceutical and noninvasive method. 

" Cooling the brain during sleep may be a natural and effective insomnia treatment."

The implications regarding how insomnia patients will be treated in the future are wide ranging. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports an estimated 10 percent of all adults suffer from chronic insomnia.

Nofzinger says that sleeping pills are the primary medical treatment for insomnia, even though they are effective in only 25 percent of the patient population. Most are concerned about becoming addicted to the sleeping pills. 

He indicates a large portion of the insomnia patients prefer non-pharmaceutical treatments to aid in sleep. This may provide a more natural way to help those with insomnia get the sleep they need. 

Participants wore these newly designed caps all night. The caps contain tubes filled with circulating cool water. Results show that there were linear effects of all-night thermal transfer intensities on sleep latency and sleep efficiency. When wearing the cap, participants with primary insomnia took 13 minutes to fall asleep. The percentage of time they were able to remain asleep was comparable to that of the non-insomnia control group.

According to Nofzinger, the simplicity and effectiveness of this natural treatment could be a long-awaited breakthrough for insomnia sufferers.

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Review Date: 
June 13, 2011
Last Updated:
June 16, 2011