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Sleep deprivation profoundly affects the human body, negatively influencing cognitive performance, cardiovascular health, and more. Findings from a 2020 study suggest that sleep deprivation impairs muscle protein synthesis, but exercise counters this effect. People who slept only four hours per night but engaged in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exhibited muscle protein synthesis comparable to those who slept a full night.

Researchers assigned 24 healthy young men to one of three five-night sleep protocols: normal sleep (eight hours nightly), sleep restriction (four hours nightly), and sleep restriction with HIIT. Researchers collected muscle biopsies to assess muscle protein synthesis before and after the intervention.

They found that the group with sleep restriction had lower rates of muscle protein synthesis than those with normal sleep and those who combined sleep restriction with HIIT.

HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to promote cardiovascular fitness and metabolic health. Its flexibility accommodates a wide range of exercises, including walking, running, cycling, and even resistance training, making it accessible to people of different fitness levels and abilities.

This was a small study, but the findings suggest that sleep restriction reduces muscle protein synthesis, potentially contributing to muscle loss. However, engaging in HIIT during periods of sleep restriction helps maintain muscle protein synthesis, potentially counteracting the adverse effects of sleep loss on muscle mass. Learn more about the benefits of HIIT in this episode featuring Dr. Martin Gibala

Former FMF guest Dr. Stuart Phillips was a collaborator and participant in this study. Learn more about Dr. Phillips' research in this episode.

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