Skin Temperature Rhythms in Humans Respond to Changes in the Timing of Sleep and Light.

TitleSkin Temperature Rhythms in Humans Respond to Changes in the Timing of Sleep and Light.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCuesta M, Boudreau P, Cermakian N, Boivin DB
JournalJ Biol Rhythms
Date Published2017 Jun

Body temperature is known to vary with circadian phase and to be influenced by factors that can mask its circadian expression. We wanted to test whether skin temperature rhythms were sensitive to an abrupt shift of the sleep schedule and to the resetting effects of light. Nineteen healthy subjects spent 6 days in time isolation and underwent a simulated night-shift procedure. They were assigned to either a control group ( n = 10) or bright light group ( n = 9) and measurements were taken under a baseline day-oriented schedule and during the 4(th) cycle of a night-oriented schedule. In the bright light group, participants were exposed to a 3-cycle 8-h exposure of ~6,500 lux at night, while the control group remained in dim light conditions (~3 lux). Skin temperature was recorded in 10 and 4 participants from the control and bright light groups, respectively. We found significant circadian rhythms of plasma melatonin, core body temperature (CBT), and skin temperature at baseline for both groups ( p < 0.001 for all). Rhythms of melatonin, CBT, and skin temperature following night shifts were significantly phase delayed by about 7 to 9 h ( p < 0.05) in response to bright light at night, whereas there was no shift in the control group. In addition, we found that at bedtime melatonin does not consistently increase before the increase in distal skin temperature and subsequent decrease in CBT, in contrast to what has been previously reported. The present study shows that, in constant posture conditions, skin temperature rhythms have an evoked component sensitive to abrupt changes in the timing of sleep. They also comprise an endogenous component that is sensitive to the resetting effects of bright light exposure. These results have applications for the determination of circadian phase, as skin temperature is less intrusive than rectal temperature recordings.

Alternate JournalJ. Biol. Rhythms
PubMed ID28569119