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J Sleep Res. 2007 Mar;16(1):42-50.

Lowering dialysate temperature improves sleep and alters nocturnal skin temperature in patients on chronic hemodialysis.

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Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322-4207, USA.


Hemodialysis (HD) induces physiological changes that may affect the ability to dissipate heat and adversely affect sleep. We studied the effects of altering dialysate temperature on polysomnographic measures of nocturnal sleep and the time course of proximal skin temperature. The sample included seven stable HD patients. The three-phase randomized trial was conducted in a research facility. After one acclimatization night, subjects were readmitted in the evening on two additional occasions for 42 h and received HD the next morning in the warm condition (dialysate 37 degrees C) and cool condition (dialysate 35 degrees C) in random order. Continuous proximal skin temperature (axillary, T(ax)) and polysomnographic measures of sleep were recorded the nights before and after HD was administered. Highly significant findings included that the time course of T(ax) was markedly affected by dialysis temperature. There was a greater drop of T(ax) in the early morning following the warm condition than during the baseline nights or in the cool condition. Logistic regression indicated that the odds for the occurrence of sleep and its deeper stages were strongly and positively associated with T(ax). Time of sleep onset was earlier in the cool condition (P = 0.03) with trends toward longer total sleep times (P = 0.09) and shorter rapid-eye-movement latencies (P = 0.09). These observations suggest that the use of cool dialysate during HD may improve nocturnal sleep by decreasing sympathetic activation and sustaining the normally elevated nocturnal skin temperature until later into the morning hours.

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