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Emma L. Sweeney, Daniel J. Peart, Irene Kyza, Thomas Harkes, Jason G. Ellis and Ian H. Walshe

Experimental sleep restriction (SR) has demonstrated reduced insulin sensitivity in healthy individuals. Exercise is well-known to be beneficial for metabolic health. A single bout of exercise has the capacity to increase insulin sensitivity for up to 2 days. Therefore, the current study aimed to determine if sprint interval exercise could attenuate the impairment in insulin sensitivity after one night of SR in healthy males. Nineteen males were recruited for this randomized crossover study which consisted of four conditions—control, SR, control plus exercise, and sleep restriction plus exercise. Time in bed was 8 hr (2300–0700) in the control conditions and 4 hr (0300–0700) in the SR conditions. Conditions were separated by a 1-week entraining period. Participants slept at home, and compliance was assessed using wrist actigraphy. Following the night of experimental sleep, participants either conducted sprint interval exercise or rested for the equivalent duration. An oral glucose tolerance test was then conducted. Blood samples were obtained at regular intervals for measurement of glucose and insulin. Insulin concentrations were higher in SR than control (p = .022). Late-phase insulin area under the curve was significantly lower in sleep restriction plus exercise than SR (862 ± 589 and 1,267 ± 558; p = .004). Glucose area under the curve was not different between conditions (p = .207). These findings suggest that exercise improves the late postprandial response following a single night of SR.