Influence on human sleep patterns of lowering and delaying the minimum core body temperature by slow changes in the thermal environment.

Exercise Sciences Research Group, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan.
Sleep (Impact Factor: 5.1). 07/2007; 30(6):797-802.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We hypothesized that appropriate changes in thermal environment would enhance the quality of sleep.
Controlled laboratory study.
Healthy young men (n = 7, mean age 26 years).
Nocturnal sleep structures in semi-nude subjects were compared between a condition where an ambient temperature (Ta) of 29.5 degree C was maintained throughout the night (constant Ta), and a second condition (dynamic Ta) where Ta changed slowly within the thermoneutral range (from 27.5 C to 29.5 degree C).
Statistically significant (P < 0.05) results included a lower and a later occurrence of minimum core body temperature (Tc), and a longer duration of slow-wave (stages 3+4) sleep in dynamic versus constant T. However, total sleep time, sleep efficiency, the total durations of light (stages 1+2) and rapid eye movement sleep, and the latencies to sleep onset, slow-wave sleep, and rapid eye movement sleep did not differ between conditions.
Lowering the minimum and delaying the nadir of nocturnal Tc increases slow-wave sleep (probably by an increase of dry heat loss); use of this tactic might improve the overall quality of sleep.

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