European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 115, Issue 10, pp 2059–2068 | Cite as

Two nights of sleep deprivation with or without energy restriction does not impair the thermal response to cold

  • Samuel J. Oliver
  • Adam D. Harper Smith
  • Ricardo J. S. Costa
  • Norbert Maassen
  • James L. J. Bilzon
  • Neil P. Walsh
Original Article



In persons completing exhaustive daily exercise, sleep and energy restriction have been highlighted as risk factors for hypothermia in cold environments. The present study therefore sought to determine the effect of sleep deprivation (SDEP), with and without energy restriction, on the thermal response to cold.


In a random order, ten recreationally active men (mean ± SD: age 25 ± 6 years, body fat 17 ± 5 %) completed three 53 h trials: a control (CON: 436 min/night sleep), SDEP (0 min sleep), and sleep deprivation and energy restriction (SDEP + ER: 0 min sleep and 10 % daily energy requirements). Exhaustive exercise was completed after 5 and 29 h. After 53 h participants completed a semi-nude seated cold air test (CAT, 0 °C), for 4 h or until rectal core temperature (T re) reached 36 °C.


Two nights of sleep and energy restriction did not impair the thermal response to cold (T re, CON 36.15 ± 0.20 °C, SDEP 36.30 ± 0.15 °C, SDEP + ER 36.25 ± 0.20 °C, P = 0.25). Rewarming was also similar as indicated by 1 h post-CAT T re (P = 0.78). In contrast, perceived thermal discomfort during the initial hour of the CAT tended to be greater after SDEP and SDEP + ER (P ≤ 0.1).


Sleep and energy restriction, at least as evaluated within this experiment, should be considered minimal risk factors for hypothermia. The greater perception of cold discomfort at the same body temperature suggests that sleep and energy restriction may actually reduce cold injury risk, as people are likely to engage earlier in normal behavioral cold adaptation.


Thermoregulation Sleep loss Cold injury Hypothermia Thermogenesis 



Analysis of variance


Body surface area


Cold air test


Control trial


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Energy restriction


Metabolic heat production

Mean Tsk

Mean skin temperature


Respiratory exchange ratio


Ratings of perceived exertion


Sleep deprivation


Sleep deprivation and energy restriction


Bicep skin temperature


Calf skin temperature


Chest skin temperature


Rectal core temperature


Thigh skin temperature


Relative humidity


Oxygen uptake


Maximal oxygen uptake



The authors wish to acknowledge the Headquarters Army Recruiting and Training Division, Upavon, UK, for supporting the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel J. Oliver
    • 1
  • Adam D. Harper Smith
    • 1
  • Ricardo J. S. Costa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Norbert Maassen
    • 3
  • James L. J. Bilzon
    • 4
  • Neil P. Walsh
    • 1
  1. 1.Extremes Research GroupBangor UniversityBangorUK
  2. 2.Department of Nutrition and DieteticsMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Sports ScienceLeibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany
  4. 4.Department for HealthUniversity of BathBathUK

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