Circadian rhythm of wrist temperature in normal-living subjects A candidate of new index of the circadian system

Physiol Behav. 2008 Nov 28;95(4):570-80. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.08.005. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


Most circadian rhythms are under the control of a major pacemaker located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus. Some of these rhythms, called marker rhythms, serve to characterize the timing of the internal temporal order. A marker rhythm, (e.g., one used in chronotherapy) has to be periodic and easy to measure over long periods using non-invasive methods. The most frequent reference variables for human chronotherapy include salivary melatonin or cortisol, urinary 6-sulfatoximelatonin, actimetry and core body temperature (CBT). Recent evidence suggests that sleepiness may be more closely linked to increased peripheral skin temperature than to a core temperature drop, and that distal skin temperature seems to be correlated and phase-advanced with respect to CBT, suggesting that heat loss from the extremities may drive the circadian CBT rhythm. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether the wrist skin temperature rhythm could be used as a possible index of the human circadian system. To this end, wrist skin temperature (WT1), as determined by a wireless data logger in healthy normal living subjects, was correlated with sleep-wake diaries and oral temperature (OT) recordings. WT and sleep habits were studied in 99 university students. Each subject wore a wireless iButton sensor attached to the inner side of a sport wristband. Our results show that the WT rhythm exhibits an inverse phase relationship with OT, and it is phase-advanced by 60 min with respect to OT. WT started to increase in association to bed time and dropped sharply after awakening. A secondary WT increase, independent of feeding, was observed in the early afternoon. In conclusion, WT wireless recording can be considered a reliable procedure to evaluate circadian rhythmicity, and an index to establish and follow the effects of chronotherapy in normal living subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activity Cycles / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skin Temperature / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness / physiology
  • Wrist*
  • Young Adult