Assessing the Relationship between Sex, Temperature and Sleep

John Wayland, University of Wales, Newport

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Abstract Circadian rhythms exert various physiological influences that encourage sleep. However, the relationship between temperature, sex, and sleep is complex. This study examined the relationship between these factors using an online questionnaire. Participants consisted of 83 females and 47 males who rated their temperature and length of sleep. Results indicated differences between and within sexes but found that neither temperature nor the interaction between these factors influenced the length of sleep that participants recorded. Explanations suggest that the subjective nature of the experiment may have influenced the result. Consideration is therefore given to future integration of subjective responses alongside readings of temperature. Additionally, a longitudinal study is suggested to assess temperature change over a substantial period of development.

Sleep is a vital part of any individual’s day. On average, individuals will sleep for a total of 175,000 hours in their lifetime (Pinel 2009, p. 348). Colman (2008, p. 701) defined sleep as a periodic state of muscular relaxation, reduced metabolic rate, and suspended consciousness. Furthermore, sleep consists of five stages that include REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, followed four separate stages called one, two, three, and four collectively known as NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. Psychologists have developed two theories that explain why animals sleep. Supporters of recuperation theories of sleep argue that wakefulness interrupts the homeostasis of the body and that sleep is a function that addresses this disruption (Pinel 2009, p. 352). In contrast, circadian theories of sleep maintain that sleep is part of a 24-hour internal system (Pinel 2009, p. 352). For example, Cariou, Galy, and Melan (2008) conducted a study assessing the 24-hour variation of alertness levels of workers. They found that during the night shift, heart rates were lower.

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