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Int J Biometeorol. 2013 Sep;57(5):743-8. doi: 10.1007/s00484-012-0601-3. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Seasonal differences in melatonin concentrations and heart rates during sleep in obese subjects in Japan.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Aichi Medical University, Nagakute, Aichi 480-1195, Japan.


During the past several decades, obesity has been increasing globally. In Japan, obesity is defined by a BMI of 25 kg/m² or over; 28.6 % of men and 20.6 % of women are obese. Obese people have an increased incidence of developing cardiovascular, renal, and hormonal diseases and sleep disorders. Obese people also have shortened sleep durations. We investigated seasonal differences in melatonin concentrations, heart rates, and heart rate variability during sleep in obese subjects in Japan. Five obese (BMI, 32.0 ± 4.9 kg/m²) and five non-obese (BMI, 23.2 ± 2.9 kg/m²) men participated in this study in the summer and winter. Electrocardiograms were measured continuously overnight in a climatic chamber at 26 °C with a relative humidity of 50 %. Saliva samples for melatonin were collected at 2300 hours, 0200 hours, and 0600 hours. We found that melatonin concentrations during sleep in obese subjects were significantly lower than those in non-obese subjects in the winter. Heart rate during sleep in winter was significantly higher than that in summer in both obese and non-obese subjects. Heart rate variability was not significantly different in the summer and winter in both obese and non-obese subjects. Our results show that decreased nocturnal melatonin concentrations during winter in obese men may be related to higher heart rates, and this may suggest that obese men are at an increased risk of a cardiovascular incident during sleep, especially in the winter.

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