Masking in humans: the problem and some attempts to solve it

Chronobiol Int. 1989;6(1):29-53. doi: 10.3109/07420528909059140.


Different types of masking are discussed together with an account of the masking effect that the sleep-wake cycle exerts upon the circadian rhythms of body temperature and urinary excretion. The relative importance to masking of the several components of differences between sleeping and wakefulness are then assessed. Means to deal with the problem of masking fall into two major categories. These attempt to minimise masking effects by protocols such as constant routines or control days, and mathematical models which separate results obtained in the presence of masking influences into endogenous and exogenous components. (The problem of the extent to which masking influences can render the endogenous component of a rhythm an impure reflection of the internal oscillator is considered also.) These different techniques are compared with respect to their usefulness and assumptions. Finally, a brief speculation is given of the usefulness of masking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Urine / analysis