If you're having trouble sleeping, maybe you just need to chill out.
You probably know all about the wonders of the magical "cool spot" on your pillow (and if you don't, try looking for it tonight). But now, researchers are taking the concept a step further. They've created a water-powered nightcap that can keep your head cool all night long.
It might just be able to help insomniacs sleep better than ever.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recruited a dozen patients who suffer from primary insomnia, a sleep disorder not linked to drugs, substance abuse, other health problems, or anything else.
The researchers also recruited a dozen normal sleepers to act as controls, and then let them all snooze away in a sleep lab for eight nights under different conditions: two nights without the cooling cap, two nights with the cooling cap at room temperature, two nights with a slight chill in the cap (72 degrees), and two nights with a nice cold cap (57 degrees).
When the cap was set at that coolest temperature, the insomniacs were practically cured: It took them just 13 minutes to fall asleep on average.
That's slightly faster than the 16 minutes needed by the normal sleepers.
Better yet, the insomniacs spent 89 percent of their time in bed asleep, about the same as the healthy sleepers, and more time in slow-wave sleep -- or the kind of sleep we need to feel rested.
Obviously, this was a small study and more research is needed before anyone can say for sure whether cooling caps are worth the time and trouble.
But none of that should stop you from experimenting on your own at home -- so if you're having sleep problems, consider cooling your pillow.
There are pillows for sale that you can fill with a layer of cold water to keep them cool through the night, but you can make your own economy version with a towel and a gel-based ice pack.
Wrap the frozen pack into the towel, and slip it into your pillow.
Whatever you do, avoid a frozen wet towel.
It might help you get to sleep at first... but you'll wake up in the middle of the night with your head in a puddle.