Objectives: Inadequate sleep (e.g., an insufficient duration of sleep per night) can reduce physical performance and has been linked to adverse metabolic health outcomes. Resistance exercise is an effective means to maintain and improve physical capacity and metabolic health, however, the outcomes for populations who may perform resistance exercise during periods of inadequate sleep are unknown. The primary aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effect of sleep deprivation (i.e. no sleep) and sleep restriction (i.e. a reduced sleep duration) on resistance exercise performance. A secondary aim was to explore the effects on hormonal indicators or markers of muscle protein metabolism.
Methods: A systematic search of five electronic databases was conducted with terms related to three combined concepts: inadequate sleep; resistance exercise; performance and physiological outcomes. Study quality and biases were assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project quality assessment tool.
Results: Seventeen studies met the inclusion criteria and were rated as 'moderate' or 'weak' for global quality. Sleep deprivation had little effect on muscle strength during resistance exercise. In contrast, consecutive nights of sleep restriction could reduce the force output of multi-joint, but not single-joint movements. Results were conflicting regarding hormonal responses to resistance training.
Conclusion: Inadequate sleep impairs maximal muscle strength in compound movements when performed without specific interventions designed to increase motivation. Strategies to assist groups facing inadequate sleep to effectively perform resistance training may include supplementing their motivation by training in groups or ingesting caffeine; or training prior to prolonged periods of wakefulness.
Keywords: Performance; Resistance exercise; Skeletal muscle health; Sleep deprivation; Sleep restriction.
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