This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Call for volunteers to trial weight loss technology for type 2 diabetes in Portsmouth study

uop diabetes tent study

Researchers in Portsmouth are calling for local volunteers to test new technology designed to help people with type 2 diabetes lose weight whilst asleep.

The trial, led by the University of Portsmouth, will look at the effect of breathing lower amounts of oxygen (i.e. hypoxia) in the air, on type 2 diabetes and weight loss.

It will investigate whether sleeping in hypoxia is effective at improving blood glucose control (the level of sugar in the blood). It/Researchers will also examine weight loss as it is possible that hypoxia reduces appetite and makes you use more energy (i.e. calories) in people living with type 2 diabetes. The trial hopes to expand on an existing body of evidence from previous research which supports this.

Volunteers will take part in the trial from their own homes, sleeping in a tent which will be set up by the study team, for two 10 day periods. For one of the 10 day periods, oxygen levels in the tent will be set to 15%, similar to levels for passengers on an aeroplane or for people living at high altitude. Volunteers will not know when they are sleeping with lower oxygen levels and should not notice a big .

Throughout the trial, volunteers will be asked to wear smart monitors, keep a food diary and provide blood, urine and stool samples. They will also have body composition scans and their blood glucose levels tested, to help researchers understand the body’s response to hypoxia. The trial will take place over 8 weeks , with five visits to the University of Portsmouth during this time. All volunteer travel expenses will be reimbursed.

15 volunteers are needed for the first phase of the trial, which is open to most people with type 2 diabetes. Exclusions include sleep apnoea, blood disorders (such as thalassemia and sickle cell) and a limited amount of drugs.

Anyone interested in finding out more and signing up for the trial can contact the study team by email on or or by phone on 02392 842711 or 02392 845289.

Dr Ant Shepherd, a Senior lecturer in the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth, who is leading the trial, explains:

“Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes blood glucose levels to become too high. For many people, it is a long-term condition which can negatively impact their everyday life and put them at a greater risk of developing other serious health complications, such as heart disease or eye problems.

“While it is possible to lose weight and reduce blood glucose levels through changes in diet and increased exercise, there are a range of factors and barriers which make these lifestyle changes difficult for some people to initiate. 

“With the number of people living with type 2 diabetes expected to reach 700 million people worldwide by 2045, is it vital that we find other successful interventions to help us treat and manage the condition, reducing the cost to the NHS and making people’s day to day lives better.”

Dr Shepherd added: “There’s already quite a lot of evidence from other studies which shows that hypoxia improves the control of blood glucose levels and results in weight loss. We’re not entirely sure why this happens, but we think it’s likely to be because it helps you burn more calories and appetites become suppressed so that people don’t feel as . We’re hoping this trial will help us find the answers.”

Initial findings from the trial are expected to be announced in early 2023, with further research anticipated if promising results are seen.