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J Sleep Res. 2000 Sep;9(3):249-54.

Gender-related sleep differences in neonates in thermoneutral and cool environments.

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Unité de Recherches sur les Adaptations Physiologiques et Comportementales, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France.


Although thermoregulation and sleep exhibit gender differences in adults, the question is still debated in neonates. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between gender-related sleep differences and cool defence mechanisms in neonates. Sleep and thermoregulation were recorded in healthy preterm neonates (21 boys and 17 girls, 37 +/- 2 weeks post-conceptional age) exposed to thermoneutral and cool conditions. Sleep was analysed for continuity and structure. Although the cool exposure did not strongly impair body homeothermia, sleep was altered but without any significant gender difference. However, when data recorded under each of the thermal conditions were pooled, some gender differences emerged: boys slept less, with more wakefulness after sleep onset, more active sleep and less quiet sleep than girls. In contrast to sleep architecture, most of the sleep continuity parameters exhibited greater variability in boys than in girls. This variability may bias the statistical analyses and probably explains the varying conclusions reported in the literature regarding gender-specific sleep-related differences.

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