Getting a good night’s sleep in the Balkans can be rough for peacekeepers bunking in a military camp far from home and family for months at a time.
So Danish researchers are testing an unusual solution — MusiCure, a soft pillow that chirps like a bird and is designed to lull soldiers to sleep in Kosovo, Iraq and other hotspots.
With built-in speakers, the white pillows release sounds from nature combined with acoustic instruments such as cellos to provide a serenade designed to help stressed-out minds shed unpleasant thoughts.
Its designers say that if it works, the pillow one day could join rifles, flak jackets and helmets as part of the basic equipment soldiers carry into conflicts.
In Kosovo, the 10 test pillows provided by Denmark’s Defense Academy have become popular among the 340 Danish soldiers deployed here, said Maj. Helmer T. Hansen, the battalion surgeon at the Danish military clinic in the province.
Soldiers can keep the pillows for two weeks, Hansen said, ticking off their benefits with the air of a hypnotist:
“You will not think about what is maybe happening with your wife at home, or your children. All thoughts will disappear, images will be created — forests, beaches, mountains. And then you will fall asleep.”
During the first month of the trial, which began in late September, about 20 Danish soldiers in need of relaxation and some quick sleep in the often ethnically tense province used them to get some shuteye.