Effects of humid heat exposure on human sleep stages and body temperature

Sleep. 1999 Sep 15;22(6):767-73.


The objective of this study was to confirm the effect of humid heat exposure on sleep stages and body temperature. Seven healthy male volunteers with a mean age of 22.7+/-1.63, served as the subjects. The experiments were carried out under four different conditions of room temperature and relative humidity: 29 degrees C RH 50% (29/50), 29 degrees C RH 75% (29/75), 35 degrees C RH 50% (35/50), and 35 degrees C RH 75% (35/75). The subjects wearing only shorts slept from 23:00 to 7:00 on a bed, which was covered with a 100% cotton sheet. EEG, EOG, and mental EMG were recorded through the night. Rectal temperature (Tr) and skin temperature were measured continuously. The 35/75 condition caused more wake and a lower sleep efficiency index (SEI) and stage S3+S4 than 29/50 and 29/75. Stage REM and stage 3 were significantly decreased at 35/75 than at 29/50 and 35/50. Tr was maintained at a higher level at 35/75 than under the other conditions. Mean skin temperature was higher at 35/50 and 35/75 than at 29/50 and 29/75. These results suggest that humid heat exposure during night sleep increases the thermal load to supress the sleep-evoked Tr decrease, stage 3, SWS, and REM, and increase wakefulness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Electrooculography
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Humidity / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Sweating / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness / physiology