Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the effects of 30 h of sleep deprivation on consecutive-day intermittent-sprint performance and muscle glycogen content.
Methods: Ten male, team-sport athletes performed a single-day "baseline" session and two consecutive-day experimental trials separated either by a normal night's sleep (CONT1 and CONT2) or no sleep (SDEP1 and SDEP2). Each session included a 30-min graded exercise run and 50-min intermittent-sprint exercise protocol, including a 15-m maximal sprint every minute and self-paced exercise bouts of varying intensities. Muscle biopsies were extracted before and after exercise during the baseline session and before exercise on day 2 during experimental trials. Voluntary force and activation of the right quadriceps, nude mass, HR, core temperature, capillary blood lactate and glucose, RPE, and a modified POMS were recorded before, after, and during the exercise protocols.
Results: Mean sprint times were slower on SDEP2 (2.78 ± 0.17 s) compared with SDEP1 (2.70 ± 0.16 s) and CONT2 (2.74 ± 0.15 s, P < 0.05). Distance covered during self-paced exercise was reduced during SDEP2 during the initial 10 min compared with SDEP1 and during the final 10 min compared with CONT2 (P < 0.05). Muscle glycogen concentration was lower before exercise on SDEP2 (209 ± 60 mmol·kg−1 dry weight) compared with CONT2 (274 ± 54 mmol·kg−1 dry weight, P = 0.05). Voluntary force and activation were reduced on day 2 of both conditions; however, both were lower in SDEP2 compared with CONT2 (P < 0.05). Sleep loss did not affect RPE but negatively affected POMS ratings (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Sleep loss and associated reductions in muscle glycogen and perceptual stress reduced sprint performance and slowed pacing strategies during intermittent-sprint exercise for male team-sport athletes.