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Sleep and muscle strength

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Summary of a review article on the influence of inadequate sleep on muscle strength.


  • persons physically active
  • sedentary
  • athletes (cyclists, judo, rugby, rugby league, strength athletes, national-level weightlifters)
  • military service members


Systematic review of 17 studies.

Outcome measures

  • muscle strength (e.g., hand grip, 1RM deadlift), performance task
  • sleep duration
  • hormonal response

Main results

  • Sleep restriction of 1 or more nights (8 studies):
    • 2.5-6 hours of sleep
    • impaired muscle strength especially in the afternoon and for compound movements (e.g., deadlift)
    • hormonal response to resistance exercise was disturbed
  • Sleep deprivation (6 studies):
    • 24-64h of no sleep
    • 1RM or total workload no change when tested in the morning
    • maximal voluntary muscle contraction had mixed results
    • extended exercise protocols (e.g., 40kg march with external load) gave mixed results
    • no change in hormonal response apart from salivary cortisol increase in the middle of the day

Take home message

For a clinician & coach
Extended sleep restriction impaired maximal force output, especially for compound movements, when no strategies to increase motivation were used. Sleep deprivation had mixed results.
For a parent
Not having enough sleep may reduce strength, especially in movements using large muscle groups.
For an athlete
Sleeping enough will optimize your strength training and performance.

Original article

Knowles OE, Drinkwater EJ, Urwin CS, Lamon S, Aisbett B. Inadequate sleep and muscle strength: Implications for resistance training. Journal of science and medicine in sport. 2018 Sep 1;21(9):959-68.

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