Effects of head cooling on human sleep stages and body temperature

Int J Biometeorol. 2003 Dec;48(2):98-102. doi: 10.1007/s00484-003-0181-3. Epub 2003 May 16.


The purpose of this study was to confirm the effect of head cooling on human sleep stages and body temperature. Nine healthy male volunteers with a mean age of 25 +/- 3.77 years served as subjects. The experiments were carried out under three different sets of conditions: 26 degrees C, relative humidity (RH) 50% (26/50); 32 degrees C, RH 80% (32/80); and 32 degrees C RH 80% with the use of a cooling pillow (32/80 HC). The subjects slept from 2300 hours to 0700 hours with a cotton blanket, wearing short-sleeved pyjamas and shorts on a bed, which was covered with a sheet. Electroencephalograms, electro-ouclogram, and mental electromyelograms were recorded through the night. Rectal temperature (Tre) and skin temperature (Tsk) were measured continuously. Whole-body sweat and the tympanic temperature (Tty) were measured before and after sleep. Wakefulness significantly increased at 32/80 than at 26/50; however, no significant difference was observed between 32/80 HC and 26/50. Tre and mean Tsk were higher both at 32/80 and 32/80 HC than at 26/50. The whole-body sweat loss was significantly greater and Tty in the morning was higher at 32/80 than 32/80 HC and 26/50. These results suggest that head cooling during sleep may help to decrease the whole-body sweat rate during sleep under humid heat conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Hypothermia, Induced
  • Male
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology