Read Original Story

Sleeptime Head-Cooling Cap Eases Insomnia, Study Finds


4 Star



Sleeptime Head-Cooling Cap Eases Insomnia, Study Finds

Our Review Summary

This is an interesting story about interesting research for a common problem.  We appreciate the caveat at the end of the story – “Because this study was extremely small and presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal and confirmed in larger studies.”  That would be one of the first things we’d expect in a story about such a small, short-term study.


Why This Matters

As the story indicates, “Chronic insomnia — which the American Academy of Sleep Medicine attributes to about one out of every 10 Americans — can be difficult to treat.”


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  No discussion of costs but that’s understandable at this early stage of development.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t adequately place the findings into context.

It stated:  “While wearing the cooling cap, it took insomnia patients an average of 13 minutes to fall asleep and they spent 89 percent of their time in bed actually sleeping, about the same as controls who didn’t have insomnia (the latter group averaged 16 minutes to fall asleep and 89 percent of the time in bed sleeping).”

But it didn’t ever define the baseline degree of insomnia these trial patients experienced.  In other words, how long did it usually take them to fall asleep and what percent of thier time in bed did they usually sleep?

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of what would appear to be a question many people would have:  didn’t wearing a cap that is presumably connected to some water supply actually interfere with anyone’s sleep? Did the control group patients wear a cap?  If so, did it make it harder for them to sleep?

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


Very appropriate reminder at the very end of the story: “Because this study was extremely small and presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal and confirmed in larger studies.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease-mongering of insomnia. Although how the 12 patients with insomnia compare to the “typical” patient with insomnia is hard to know from what was presented. Presumably people have insomnia for different reasons. Did they somehow identify a group that would be more likely to respond to this treatment? Specifically what were the criteria for participating? So while not “disease mongering”, it is unclear if these results are applicable to the average person with insomnia.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


One independent sleep researcher was quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story included some good context:

“Medications can help, although many people complain of side effects, Kohler said. The most effective treatment is cognitive behavior therapy, which involves changes such as avoiding cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine before bed, and getting plenty of bright light in the morning but turning off the TV, computer and dimming the lights during a wind-down period, among other techniques for improving “sleep hygiene.”

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story makes it clear that the approach is experimental and not yet available to consumers.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


A quote from an independent researcher establishes that this is not a totally new field of research:  “we do know from many previous studies that as the body core temperature cools, our sleep improves, and with warming of the core temperature, we have more restless sleep.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


The story does not appear to rely on a news release.

Total Score: 7 of 9 Satisfactory


Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.