Relative and combined effects of heat and noise exposure on sleep in humans

Sleep. 1991 Feb;14(1):24-31. doi: 10.1093/sleep/14.1.24.


In a counter-balanced design, the effects of daytime and/or nighttime exposure to heat and/or traffic noise on night sleep were studied in eight healthy young men. During the day, the subjects were exposed to baseline condition (ambient temperature = 20 degrees C; no noise) or to both heat (35 degrees C) and noise. The duration of the daytime exposure was 8 h ending 5 h before sleep onset. The following nights, the subjects slept either in undisturbed (20 degrees C; no noise) or in noise, heat, or noise plus heat-disturbed environments. During the day, the various types of traffic noise were distributed at a rate of 48/h with peak intensities ranging between 79 and 86 dB(A). The background noise level was at 45 dB(A). At night, the peak intensities were reduced by 15 dB(A), the rate was diminished to 9/h, and the background noise was at 30 dB(A). Electrophysiological measures of sleep and esophageal and mean skin temperatures were continuously recorded. The results showed that both objective and subjective measures of sleep were more disturbed by heat than by noise. The thermal load had a larger impact on sleep quality than on sleep architecture. In the nocturnal hot condition, total sleep time decreased while duration of wakefulness, number of sleep stage changes, stage 1 episodes, number of awakenings, and transitions toward waking increased. An increase in the frequency of transient activation phases was also found in slow-wave sleep and in stage 2. In the nocturnal noise condition, only total number of sleep stage changes, changes to waking, and number of stage 1 episodes increased.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noise, Transportation / adverse effects*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology