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Temperature biofeedback and sleep: limited findings and methodological challenges

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Geneviève Forest,1,2 Cameron van den Heuvel,3 Kurt Lushington,4 Joseph De Koninck21Sleep Laboratory, Département de Psychoéducation et de Psychologie, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Gatineau, Québec, Canada; 2Sleep and Dreams Laboratory, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 3Research Branch University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; 4School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, South Australia, AustraliaAbstract: Given the close link between body temperature and sleep, the perspective of manipulating core and peripheral temperature by self-regulation techniques is very appealing. We report here on a series of attempts conducted independently in two laboratories to use self-regulation (biofeedback) of oral (central) and hand (peripheral) temperature, and measured the impact on sleep-onset latency, sleep architecture, and circadian phase. We found that hand temperature was more successful than oral temperature biofeedback. Moreover, an increase in hand temperature was associated with reduced sleep-onset latency. However, most participants found the procedure difficult to implement. The temperature response to biofeedback was reduced in the aged and weakest at the time of sleep onset, and there was not a systematic relationship between the change in temperature and change in sleep latency. Methodological limitations and individual differences may account for these results. Recommendations for future research are presented.Keywords: biofeedback, core body temperature, sleep, circadian rhythm, sleep onset


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