Military Training: Sleep Deprivation & Immune Indices

Research Paper Title

The effects of two nights of sleep deprivation with or without energy restriction on immune indices at rest and in response to cold exposure.


The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of two nights of sleep deprivation with or without energy restriction on immune indices at rest and in response to cold exposure.


On three randomised occasions ten males slept normally [mean (SD): 436 (21) min night(-1); CON], were totally sleep-deprived (SDEP), or were totally sleep-deprived and 90% energy-restricted (SDEP + ER) for 53 h. After 53 h (1200 h) participants performed a seated cold air test (CAT) at 0.0A degrees C until T (re) decreased to 36.0A degrees C. Circulating leucocyte counts, neutrophil degranulation, stress hormones and saliva secretory IgA (S-IgA) were determined at 0 h, 24 h, 48 h, pre-CAT, post-CAT, 1-h and 2-h post-CAT.


One night on SDEP increased bacterially stimulated neutrophil degranulation (21%, P < 0.05), and two nights on SDEP and SDEP + ER increased S-IgA concentration (40 and 44%; P < 0.01). No other significant effects were observed for immuno-endocrine measures prior to CAT. CAT duration was not different between trials [mean (SD): 133 (53) min] and T (re) decreased to 35.9 (0.3)A degrees C. Modest whole-body cooling decreased circulating lymphocyte counts (25%; P < 0.01), S-IgA concentration (36%; P < 0.01) and secretion rate (24%; P < 0.05). A neutrophilia occurred post-CAT on CON and SDEP and 2-h post-CAT on SDEP + ER (P < 0.01). Modest whole-body cooling also decreased neutrophil degranulation on CON (22%) and SDEP (18%; P < 0.05). Plasma cortisol and norepinephrine increased post-CAT (31 and 346%, P < 0.05), but modest whole-body cooling did not alter plasma epinephrine.


In conclusion, two nights of SDEP or SDEP + ER did not compromise resting immune indices. However, modest whole-body cooling (T (re) 35.9A degrees C) decreased circulating lymphocytes, neutrophil degranulation and S-IgA, but responses were not amplified by prior SDEP or SDEP + ER.


Costa, R.J.S., Smith, A.H., Oliver, S.J., Walters, R., Maassen, N., Bilzon, J. L. J. & Walsh, N.P. (2010) The Effects of Two Nights of Sleep Deprivation with or without Energy Restriction on Immune Indices at Rest and in Response to Cold Exposure. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 109 (3), pp.417-428.


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