Self-selected exercise intensity is unchanged by sleep loss

  • Bruce J. Martin
  • Ruth Haney


Sleep loss alters the perceptual response to exercise: subjects describe constant external work loads as more severe after sleep deprivation. However, since subjects cannot be “blind” to their sleep status and have knowledge of previous exertional ratings, it remains unknown if this increase in perceived exertion merely represents expectations of increased difficulty of exercise after sleep loss. As one approach to this problem, we asked 24 subjects to produce equivalent “very hard” efforts, once after normal sleep, and once after 30 h without sleep. This was done by allowing the subject, while walking at constant speed, to adjust treadmill grade, without knowledge of the actual elevation. We found that exercise at equal perceived exertion was associated with the choice of a nearly equal absolute work load after sleep deprivation as after normal sleep (17.1 vs. 17.5% grade; p=n.s.). In addition, after 10 min of exercise at the self-selected intensity, subjects displayed identical ventilation, oxygen uptake, and CO2 production. However, heart rate was significantly lower during exercise after sleep loss (170±3 vs. 178±3 b·min−1; p<0.001). These results suggest that previously measured increases in perceived exertion during constant-load exercise after sleep loss may be spurious.

Key words

Oxygen uptake Ventilation Heart rate Perceived exertion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce J. Martin
    • 1
  • Ruth Haney
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiology Section, Medical Sciences Program and Department of PsychologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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