Having trouble sleeping? Try cooling your brain.

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Chronic insomnia is a problem for a huge number of people, but new research reveals a simple way to get to sleep, without reaching for the drug cabinet. Borrowing a tip from PC case modders, researchers found that a liquid cooling system attached to people's heads seems to help them sleep.

The research was presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. According to the authors, one of the causes of insomnia is increased metabolism in the frontal cortex — if you cool your head down, you reduce the metabolism rate and sleep comes more easily. It's sort of like icing an injury to reduce blood flow and swelling. When sufferers of chronic insomnia wore a cap that circulated cold water around their heads, they fell asleep as fast and slept as well as people without the condition.

Unfortunately, we don't know what temperature or rate the water was pumped through, but we're sure you can hack something together. Reroute a PC cooling system into a shower cap? Or, on a more practical level, just wrap your head in cold, damp towel. Hopefully it'll be enough to push you into sleep.


Abstract available here [PDF]