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The influence of sleep on the metabolic health adaptations to exercise S&T24

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T24

Exercise is often conducted with the aim of improving health and reducing the risk of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated improvements in metabolic health, including glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles, after acute and chronic exercise. Consideration is often given to how exercise duration, intensity, and modality influence the metabolic adaptations to exercise, however other behaviours, such as sleep, may also be important. Despite the abundance of exercise training studies, the influence of sleep on the metabolic adaptations to exercise has not yet been investigated.

Almost three-quarters of adults in the United Kingdom do not achieve the recommended minimum duration of 7 hours of sleep each night (The Sleep Council, 2017). This suggests that many individuals who undertake exercise with the aim of improving health may not be attaining sufficient sleep to support their physiological health. Poor sleep, either in quantity or quality, can have consequences for metabolic health. As little as one night of sleep restriction can lead to a reduction in insulin sensitivity (Donga et al., 2010). Short sleep may exert its effects on metabolic health through changes in peripheral tissues, with both adipose and skeletal muscle tissue insulin signalling being altered after a short period of sleep restriction (Broussard et al., 2015; Sweeney et al., 2017).

Given the ability of sleep to influence metabolic health and cause changes in tissues similar to those targeted by exercise, it is possible that the metabolic adaptations to acute and chronic exercise may be partly mediated by sleep behaviours. Hence, the aim of this PhD project is to investigate the extent to which sleep affects the metabolic health adaptations to exercise. This may help to inform guidance given to individuals who undertake exercise for the purpose of improving health.

The project will involve several acute and chronic exercise training studies, and would suit an individual with a background in Sport and Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, Sleep Science, or a related area.

The supervisory team consists of Director of Studies Dr Emma Sweeney and co-supervisors Dr John Hough, Dr David Clayton and Dr Ian Walshe (Northumbria University).

School strategic research priority

This project will align with the Exercise and Health Research group of the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre, which aims to explore the ways that exercise influences human health and develop interventions to prevent disease and improve health. More broadly, the project will align with the Health and Wellbeing research theme at NTU.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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