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



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.

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Fig. 4



Analysis of variance

A D :

Body surface area


Cold air test


Control trial


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Energy restriction

M :

Metabolic heat production

Mean T sk :

Mean skin temperature


Respiratory exchange ratio


Ratings of perceived exertion


Sleep deprivation


Sleep deprivation and energy restriction

T bicep :

Bicep skin temperature

T calf :

Calf skin temperature

T chest :

Chest skin temperature

T re :

Rectal core temperature

T thigh :

Thigh skin temperature


Relative humidity

VO2 :

Oxygen uptake

VO2max :

Maximal oxygen uptake


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

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The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Samuel J. Oliver.

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Communicated by George Havenith.

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Oliver, S.J., Harper Smith, A.D., Costa, R.J.S. et al. Two nights of sleep deprivation with or without energy restriction does not impair the thermal response to cold. Eur J Appl Physiol 115, 2059–2068 (2015).

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  • Thermoregulation
  • Sleep loss
  • Cold injury
  • Hypothermia
  • Thermogenesis