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Am J Physiol. 1998 Apr;274(4 Pt 2):R1087-93.

Effects of temperature on sleep in the developing rat.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California 94305, USA.


In altricial species, such as humans and rats, much of the development of autonomic systems occurs postnatally. Consequently, vulnerabilities exist early in postnatal development when immature autonomic functions are challenged by external factors such as variations in ambient temperature (Ta). Ta profoundly influences sleep/wake state structure in adult animals and humans, and exposure to excessive warmth has been implicated as a risk factor in sudden infant death syndrome. To better understand the relationship between temperature and sleep during development, we investigated the effect of Ta variation on sleep/wake state structure and sleep intensity in developing rats. In this experiment, sleep intensity was measured by the intensity of slow-wave activity during slow-wave sleep. Neonatal Long-Evans hooded rat pups were surgically prepared for chronic sleep/wake state and brain temperature (Tbr) recording. Two-hour recordings of sleep/wake state and Tbr were obtained from rats on postnatal day 12 (P12), P14, P16, P18, and P20 at a Ta of either 28.0-30.0, 33.0-35.0, or 38.0-40.0 degrees C. Ta significantly influenced sleep/wake state structure but had little, if any, effect on sleep intensity in developing rats.

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