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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 05:49 GMT 06:49 UK
Pillow talk for insomniacs
Sleeping soundly
The pillows are cooled in the fridge
A team of Edinburgh students believe they have invented a cure for sleepless nights - cool pillows.

They say the special bead-filled cushions should help people suffering from insomnia to sleep better, as well as curing headaches.

Their idea is one of many competing for a cash prize in a contest organised by the Royal Bank of Scotland.


A nice cool pillow could be very soothing at any time

Alan Marshall, team leader
The team at Heriot-Watt University are confident they have come up with the ultimate cure for insomnia - pillows filled with special polyacrylic beads.

They are put in the fridge during the day to cool down, then placed under the person's head in bed at night.

The business students say they came up with the idea during the recent hot spell when one of them could not sleep properly.

They believe a cool pillow is easier to sleep on and also helps calm stress levels and soothe headaches.

Its inventors have overcome problems like waterproofing to reach the prototype phase.

Heriot-Watt University
The students are from Heriot-Watt University
And the students hope to take it further with university backing if the pillow proves to be commercially viable.

Management studies tutor Paul Winson says they are seeking 40,000 in funding to develop the idea into a commercial product.

And he feels that the project has potential.

"The research on the market indicates there is public interest in something like this, particularly among middle class people aged 25 to 45," he said.

Team leader Alan Marshall feels it is a simple answer to an ongoing problem.

"Many people go to great lengths to get comfortable in bed and enjoy a good night's sleep.

Body temperature

"We think this will be useful not only when it's hot, but a nice cool pillow could be very soothing at any time," he said.

However, Professor Jim Horne of the Sleep Research Laboratory at Loughborough University said he felt the idea was a bit unnecessary.

"I don't think the problem is any worse over the summer than at any other time of year," he said.

"I think the temperature of the body would melt the beads in no time at all. You'd have to have something cooling going through the pillow all the time.


If people get hot they can just wear fewer bedclothes or get a fan going

Professor Jim Horne
"Cooling the head is a good idea though. You can cool the body down by cooling the head.

"The blood that flows through the head goes to the rest of the body so if you cool that down then you will cool the body.

"But I think if people get hot they can just wear fewer bedclothes or get a fan going. I don't think it's too much of a problem for people."

Other suggestions which have emerged from the enterprise section of the university course include air-filled bicycle saddles and vending machines for disposable cameras.

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