Science says they improve our sleep quality!
Ever flipped your pillow to the cool side? I have.
There's a reason we do it, and that's the reason that cooling pillows work. Not that I knew any of this until last week.
Our body lets us sleep best when the ambient temperature is about 16 to 18 degrees Celsius. A fall in body temperature due to circadian rhythms causes drowsiness and increases our propensity to want to go to sleep in the evening.
If we feel hotter, our sleep is disturbed, and we flip the pillow to seek cooling.
It was only one week ago that I discovered that such a thing as a cooling pillow existed. I was surprised, especially since I was not reading advertising but a research report. I had no inkling that such a thing existed (beyond marketing).
Why does it matter - is it just another gimmick?
Certainly, the relationship between sleep quality and our overall health is not a gimmick.
Many studies have linked sleep deprivation with well-known risk factors for heart disease, including higher cholesterol levels, higher triglyceride levels, and higher blood pressure.
People who don't get sufficient sleep also have higher blood levels of stress hormones and substances that indicate inflammation, a key player in cardiovascular disease.
This study showed subjects who slept less then 6 hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold.
So what does research tell us about cool pillows, and regulating our body temperature when sleeping?
It turns out that heat doesn't just make it hard to fall asleep – it also impacts how well we sleep.
What science says makes a perfect pillow
The Indian study referenced above noted that the perfect pillow has the following characteristics:
All up, it appears that using a cooling pillow does help us sleep better.
Cooling pillows - how do they work?
Cooling pillows come in many forms.
Some contain a gel which disperses heat from our head and distributes it evenly throughout the pillow. You'll no longer be flipping your pillow to the cold side. Other types simply use foam designed to have more cavities and ventilation routes than traditional pillow foam.
The general principle lying behind the working of cooling pillows is conduction. Conduction is when a material with the most heat is able to transfer its heat to a material with less heat. I guess this is why feather pillows aren't cooling pillows, as feathers don't conduct heat.
Cooling pillows move heat from under our head and neck, through the gel, and out into the air. Regular pillows will tend to trap the heat in their surface, which in turn causes us to sweat.
They work, but give them a few days
A cooling pillow and a cool bedroom will lower the temperature around your head, neck, and shoulders so that you'll fall asleep faster and experience deeper, more restful sleep.
If a pillow is labelled cooling, it likely wicks away moisture, dissipates heat and promotes increased airflow. Research supports the beneficial effects of this heat transfer away from our head.
Research also shows that it may take about 5 days to get used to a new pillow. Don't judge your new pillow too hastily, as you may find that it takes a few days to feel comfortable.
Choose a pillow which supports your head and neck sufficiently, is a cool pillow, and is comfortable.
Good luck, and may you sleep better.
Five tips to help you sleep better
#1 Regulate your bedroom temperature
The temperature of your bedroom can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. (In fact, the bedroom temperature is more important to sleep quality than external noise.
Air circulation is essential as the movement of the air over your skin has significant cooling effects.
#2 Increase light exposure during the day
Exposure to sunlight and bright light during the day is critical to your natural sleep cycle (your circadian rhythm ).
#3 Time your exercise
A decrease in body temperature is a crucial trigger to signal the body that it's time for sleep. Without exercise, this triggered by your natural circadian rhythm.
After vigorous exercise, your body temperature will rise for 4-5 hours, after which it will then drop to a lower temperature than if you hadn't exercised at all. Time your bedtime to coincide with this drop in temperature.
#4 Have a cold shower
If you are really feeling hot before heading to bed, try a cold or cool shower.
Getting under a cold shower will take the heat out of your skin and help drop your core body temperature (and rinse off any sweat before climbing under your sheets).
#5 Go to bed and get up at the same time
Go to bed at the same time every night and, no matter how the night goes, rise the next day at the same time and remain awake until your planned sleep time. The getting up part of this can be hard!
Doing this helps to set your internal sleep clock and enhances your natural sleep drive.
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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician. Disclaimer.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter