insomnia and body temperatures

Sleepiness and sleep propensity are strongly influenced by our circadian clock as indicated by many circadian rhythms, most commonly by that of core body temperature. Sleep is most conducive in the temperature minimum phase, but is inhibited in a "wake maintenance zone" before the minimum phase, and is disrupted in a zone following that phase.

Different types of insomnia symptoms have been associated with abnormalities of the body temperature rhythm. Sleep onset insomnia is associated with a delayed temperature rhythm presumably, at least partly, because sleep is attempted during a delayed evening wake maintenance zone.

Morning bright light has been used to phase advance circadian rhythms and successfully treat sleep onset insomnia. Conversely, early morning awakening insomnia has been associated with a phase advanced temperature rhythm and has been successfully treated with the phase delaying effects of evening bright light. Sleep maintenance insomnia has been associated not with a circadian rhythm timing abnormality, but with nocturnally elevated core body temperature. Combination of sleep onset and maintenance insomnia has been associated with a 24-hr elevation of core body temperature supporting the chronic hyper-arousal model of insomnia.

The possibility that these last two types of insomnia may be related to impaired thermo regulation, particularly a reduced ability to dissipate body heat from distal skin areas, has not been consistently supported in laboratory studies. Further studies of thermo regulation are needed in the typical home environment in which the insomnia is most evident.