The FDA just approved a cool new sleep treatment. And we don’t mean that it is trendy, the treatment involves cooling your forehead in order to speed the onset of sleep.
The fact that cooling temperatures are associated with increased sleepiness shouldn’t be new to anyone who has been on a long distance flight. Pilots routinely turned down the cabin temperatures when they want to encourage people to sleep. And if you’re alert you can notice how effective this is, at least at the right time.
Before he helped found the company that is launching this treatment (Cereve), probably in late 2017, Dr. Nofziger was a Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Sleep Neuroimaging Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine where he worked for 25 years. He is also a Past-President of the United States Sleep Research Society and a Past-President of the Sleep Research Society Foundation.
He noticed that in patients with what has been called psycho-physiologic insomnia (not being able to shut off thoughts and worries in order to get to sleep) functional brain images showed that there prefrontal cortex remained very active, and he was able to show that gently cooling the forehead in a precise way reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex and facilitated early sleep.
This announcement is particularly interesting in light of a recent article suggesting that warming the body may be an effective antidepressant treatment and alert readers may also recall that in an article that sought to study sleep patterns among people who did not have access to electricity or light (hunter gatherer tribes) it turned out that the best predictor of when people woke up was when ambient temperatures started to rise…
According to a summary of the FDA approval from Medscape –
Three clinical studies that included more than 230 patients over 3800 research nights demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the device. In one of these — a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of people with primary insomnia at seven clinical sites across the United States — results from polysomnographic sleep measurements showed a statistically significant reduction in latency to stage 1 sleep, the time taken to get into the first stage of sleep, as well as latency to stage 2 sleep.
Across two additional studies, self-reports from patients demonstrated that the quality of their sleep improved over 30 days of in-home use of the Cerêve Sleep System.
Janssen CW, Lowry CA, Mehl MR, Allen JJ, Kelly KL, Gartner DE, Medrano A, Begay TK, Rentscher K, White JJ, Fridman A, Roberts LJ, Robbins ML, Hanusch KU, Cole SP, Raison CL. Whole-Body Hyperthermia for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 May 12. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1031. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27172277.