What is supposed to be a toddler's body temperature during sleep?

(January 12, 2010)


The human body is made up of a lot of complex mechanisms. There are thousands of processes at work in our body, even while we are sleeping. The temperature of our body has a close relationship to our energy levels. In fact, when our body is warm, we are more alert, more attentive, and wide awake. When the temperature of the body is low, we may feel lethargic, tired and sleepy. This is one of the body’s mechanisms to induce sleep.

Our body has an internal clock which tends to control the sleeping and waking cycles of the body. It is our body temperature which also governs both blood circulation and metabolism. There are many other involuntary activities in the body which are triggered by subtle changes in the body temperature. The rise and drop in the temperature of the body is extremely important in understanding the cycle of sleep and wakefulness.

As mentioned earlier, the brain has a 24 hour clock according to which it controls and regulates the various mechanisms of the body, including sleep and wakefulness. The Super Chiasmatic Nucleus or the SCN of the brain regulates what we often refer to as the body clock. The SCN gets tuned to the seasonal changes in light and adjusts the body to the changing patterns of light. The changes in SCN tend to regulate the daily rhythms of the body, especially those of sleeping and wakefulness. SCN also records seasonal changes in the mood and reflects them in behavior.

The brain registers changes in light and responds to it by releasing a hormone known as melatonin. The concentration of melatonin in the body decreases when there is an increase in the sunlight entering the eyes. With the decrease in the melatonin, the temperature of the body increases, wakefulness increases, and the body becomes alert. The body’s temperature is the highest around six in the evening. At night, when there is no light, the temperature of the body drops to about 97.8 to 98 °F. This is a signal for the brain to produce melatonin so that alertness can wane. The descent towards sleep begins during this time. The temperature of the body continues to decrease throughout the night, reaching its lowest around 4 a.m., the time when you are in the deepest sleep. After 4 a.m., the body begins preparing itself to rise and be alert.

Therefore, at night, when your toddler is deep in sleep, the body’s temperature is lower than normal, ranging from 97.5 F to 98.4 °F.

Submitted by P T on January 12, 2010 at 12:53

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