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Keywords:

  • circadian rhythm;
  • Cortisol;
  • melatonin;
  • non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome;
  • rectal temperature

Abstract Twenty-four-hour profiles of plasma melatonin, cortisol and rectal temperature were measured longitudinally in a sighted man who has been suffering from sleep disorders for more than 10 years. The sleep-wake rhythm of this subject free-ran, despite his routine life, and occasionally showed a sign of internal desyn-chronization, where sleep was lengthened up to 30 h. These states were classified into the non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome. Plasma melatonin concentrations in the subjective night remained at a low level and showed a damped circadian rhythm. At the same time, robust circadian rhythms were detected in plasma cortisol and rectal temperature, indicating that the circadian pacemaker was intact. The causal relationship between the damping of nocturnal melatonin rise and a failure of entrainment of the sleep-wake cycle is discussed.