Physical performance and physiological responses following 60 hours of sleep deprivation

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SYMONS, J. D., T. VANHELDER, and W. S. MYLES. Physical performance and physiological responses following 60 hours of sleep deprivation. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 374-380, 1988. The effect of 60 h of sleep deprivation (SD) upon physical performance and physiological responses to exercise was examined in 11 male subjects. The experiment consisted of two conditions separated by at least 10 d. In the experimental condition (E) subjects remained awake for 60 h and in the control condition (C) the same subjects had 7 h of sleep per night. In both conditions subjects reported to the laboratory on the evening prior to d 1 and slept for 7 h. Physical performance testing was carried out on d 1 and again on d 3 after either two nights of sleep or two nights of SD. Results obtained on d 3 are expressed relative to d 1, the control day. Maximal isometric and isokinetic muscular strength and endurance of selected upper and lower body muscle groups, performance of the Wingate Anaerobic Power Test, simple reaction time, the blood lactate response to cycle exercise at 70% O2max, and most of the cardiovascular and respiratory responses to treadmill running at 70% and 80% O2max, were not significantly altered as a result of SD. These results suggest that sleep loss of up to 60 h will not impair the capability for physical work, a finding of considerable importance in sustained military operations which frequently involve the combination of both physical and mental tasks.

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