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SLEEP: Cerebral Thermal Transfer May Treat Insomnia

Last Updated: June 13, 2011.

In patients with insomnia, frontal cerebral thermal transfer by wearing a cap that cools the brain during sleep may improve sleep onset and efficiency, according to a study presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, held from June 11 to 15 in Minneapolis.

MONDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with insomnia, frontal cerebral thermal transfer (FCTT) by wearing a cap that cools the brain during sleep may improve sleep onset and efficiency, according to a study presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, held from June 11 to 15 in Minneapolis.

Eric Nofzinger, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Daniel J. Buysse, M.D., from Cereve Inc. in Alison Park, Pa., investigated whether all-night FCTT had a dose-dependent effect on improving sleep onset and efficiency in 12 patients with insomnia (nine women), with an average age of 44.6 years. Patients were matched with 12 healthy age- and gender-matched controls. The participants were fitted with a soft plastic cap, which was filled with circulating water, on their scalp. By varying the conditions and temperature of the circulating water, thermal transfer intensities were varied to no device and to device with either neutral, moderate, or maximal cooling thermal transfer intensity.

The investigators found that all-night thermal transfer intensities had a linear effect on sleep latency (P = 0.02) and sleep efficiency (P = 0.05). The average sleep latency and sleep efficiency for maximum thermal transfer condition did not differ between patients with insomnia (13 minutes and 89 percent, respectively) and healthy age- and gender-matched sleepers (16 minutes and 89 percent, respectively).

"FCTT improved sleep latency and sleep efficiency in insomnia patients in a dose-dependent manner. In the maximum condition, sleep values in insomnia patients did not differ from healthy controls," the authors write.

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