Research underway at University of Illinois at Chicago could possibly help people with insomnia sleep better. Joan Shaver, Ph.D., R.N., Dean of the College of Nursing at UIC, and Barbara Berger, Clinical Assistant Professor, are heading the research, which is using warm booties as a way to help people with insomnia fall asleep and stay asleep. The idea, says Shaver, is that better sleep occurs when the body temperature naturally lowers in the evening. By wearing warm booties before bed, people with insomnia who have a reduced evening body temperature drop may experience a greater temperature change and go to sleep more easily.
The booties are warmed in the microwave and are worn for 30 minutes during the hour before a person goes to sleep. Sensors are worn to measure the person's body temperature and a wristwatch-like activity monitor is used to determine when sleep occurs. Study participants will follow the procedure with the booties for a week and then, after a break, will repeat the measurement procedures with unwarmed booties as a comparison control. The protocol has been tested and researchers at UIC are now recruiting more subjects for the study.