The effect of a short burst of exercise during the night on subsequent sleep

Michelle Dominiak, Katya Kovac, Amy C. Reynolds, Sally A. Ferguson, Grace E. Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


When on-call workers wake during the night to perform work duties, they may experience reduced alertness and impaired performance as a result of sleep inertia. After performing their duties, on-call workers may have the opportunity to return to sleep. Thus, it is important that sleep inertia countermeasures do not affect subsequent sleep. Exercise may be a suitable countermeasure; however, the impact on subsequent sleep is untested. Healthy participants (n = 15) completed three conditions in a counterbalanced order: sedentary, low-intensity exercise or high-intensity exercise, performed for 2 min upon awakening. Sleep was recorded 2 hr later using polysomnography, the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale was administered to measure subjective sleepiness, and core body temperature was measured continuously. Results indicate there was no effect of condition on most sleep variables; however, three variables had small differences, with longer total sleep time (p =.006), higher sleep efficiency (p =.006) and shorter N3 latency (p <.001) in the low-intensity exercise condition. There was no difference in subjective sleepiness (p =.124) or core body temperature (p =.216) 90 min after the exercise intervention. These results indicate that using a short burst of exercise to counteract sleep inertia when woken during the night may be a suitable countermeasure for on-call workers who not only need to be alert upon waking but also need quality sleep when returning to bed. Future research could include participants of other ages and health statuses to investigate whether the results are generalizable.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13077
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • core body temperature
  • Karolinska Sleepiness Scale
  • night
  • on-call
  • polysomnography


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