Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Acute Skeletal Muscle Recovery after Exercise

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020 Feb;52(2):507-514. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002137.


Purpose: Sleep is considered essential for muscle recovery, mainly due to its effect on hormone secretion. Total sleep deprivation or restriction is known to alter not only blood hormones but also cytokines that might be related to skeletal muscle recovery. This study aimed to evaluate whether total sleep deprivation after eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage (EEIMD) modifies the profiles of blood hormones and cytokines.

Methods: In two separate conditions, with a crossover and randomized model, 10 men (age, 24.5 ± 2.9 yr; body mass index, 22.7 ± 2.3 kg·m) performed a unilateral EEIMD protocol that comprised 240 eccentric contractions of the knee extensor muscles using an isokinetic dynamometer. In one condition, a "muscle damage" protocol was followed by 48 h of total sleep deprivation and 12 h of normal sleep (DEPRIVATION). In the other condition, the same muscle damage protocol was conducted, followed by three nights of regular sleep (SLEEP). Isometric muscle voluntary contraction tests and blood samples were collected serially throughout the protocol and analyzed for creatine kinase, free and total testosterone, IGF-1, cortisol, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, receptor antagonist of IL-1 and IL-10.

Results: Muscle voluntary contraction and serum creatine kinase increased equally over the study period in both conditions. From the cytokines evaluated, only IL-6 increased in DEPRIVATION. No differences were detected in testosterone levels between conditions, but IGF-1, cortisol, and cortisol/total testosterone ratio were higher in DEPRIVATION.

Conclusions: Total sleep deprivation after EEIMD does not delay muscle strength recovery but modifies inflammatory and hormonal responses.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Young Adult


  • IL6R protein, human
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Testosterone
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Hydrocortisone