How important is sleep for muscle growth. Ask any bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast and they will tell you it is vital.
Does it happen during the session itself? Is it when you relax afterwards and enjoy a protein shake?
Perhaps it’s later in the afternoon when you’re gobbling your sweet potato, beets, spinach and tuna salad?
The truth is, you’re breaking muscle down in the gym; essentially damaging yourself.
If we thought exercise was the action and the reward in one then we’d soon learn the hard way. Sleep for muscle growth is vitally important!
Do nothing but work out and you’d quickly waste away to nothing. Lifting weights doesn’t make you stronger, it stimulates growth called overcompensation.
All the bulking up and muscle gains will be lost if you do not get enough rest and sleep.
Even during the hours after your workout, you are fighting catabolism more than you are building muscle per se.
Catabolism is the continued breakdown of proteins that make up your muscle fibres.
By eating and drinking the right things, and relaxing of course, this process is slowed and eventually stalled.
Some of the best intra-workout supplements are so good because they don’t just fuel your workout, they help recovery by slowing catabolism afterwards.
There are also supposedly ‘safe steroids’ that can help build muscle and burn fat extremely fast but at what cost to your health. Thankfully, there are now natural alternatives that can product similar results.
Not getting enough sleep is one of the biggest mistakes gym goers make.
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Sleep for Muscle Growth
The real benefits from resistance training come while you are sleeping.
In fact, the real benefits from all sorts of training are gained as you slumber.
Your body and brain are machines, and machines need downtime to be effectively repaired and rebuilt.
So, whether you’ve studied for an exam, rehearsed for a music recital, or done five sets of 8 on the deadlift that day, you are going to be better at those things after a good nights sleep.
If you seem to be getting nowhere – or not much improvement – from all your hard efforts in the gym or exercise setting then think about how much sleep you get regularly.
I would say sleep is as important as diet and nutrition in the context of body composition and strength gains.
You cannot survive without either for very long, and you cannot build muscle and shed fat effectively without them.
If you have your diet and exercise figured out then it can only really be sleep.
8 or 9 hours is optimal, but what average person with kids and a job can manage that?
The answer is: it’s up to you. Everything is doable, it just takes a bit of readjusting.
How Can you Ensure a Good Night of Deep Sleep?
Melatonin (and light)
Melatonin is a hormone that we secrete naturally; it regulates sleep.
It also triggers the largest release of growth hormone within the 24 hour period.
Luckily, melatonin is available in supplement form and it can be used for a period of time to re-regulate sleep patterns if they have fallen out of whack.
Too much bright light can upset the cyclic release of melatonin, specifically in the blue end of the spectrum.
So if you look at computer screens, phone screens, or watch the TV right up until you go to bed, it may disrupt your sleep pattern.
Scientists say that warm red light is more effective for melatonin production.
There are some programs like f.lux which dims your computer screen gradually and shifts it into the red as you get deeper into the evening.
I write a lot at night and then read, sometimes on my phone, and I use programs that make the background black and the text white. That seems to help me too
Disruptive sound at night can not only keep us awake but increase our stress levels and adrenaline to the point that anger or alertness stops us from falling asleep, even after the source of noise disappears.
Frustrating as it is, you can never shut your ears off like you can close your eyelids.
The solutions are still available though.
Earplugs: if you can’t turn it off, block it. Simple and effective.
The foam kind seem to work best because you can squish them up, put them in your ears and let them expand to block out a good level of decibels.
White Noise Makers: sometimes, even earplugs aren’t enough.
They weren’t for me when I lived below some terrible neighbours.
Use a white noise maker. There are apps for most smart phones which you can then plug into a speaker.
White noise is that which spans a wide range of the spectrum and is constant, therefore flooding your audible senses and blocking other more variable and annoying sounds.
The combination of the two methods above helped me through some tough times, either when I was living in a noisy household, or below one. One piece of advice: remember to set a loud alarm!
The circadian rhythm is called that for a reason.
Naturally, we are supposed to go to bed when the sun goes down and wake up when it rises.
It made sense to the caveman, but modern-day society doesn’t really accommodate that behaviour too well.
Imagine going to bed at 4pm in the depth of Winter (depending where you are in the world of course).
We can, however, create our own rhythms and going to bed at a specific time – or within an envelope of time – every night is one way we can induce our own sleep cycle.
This is easier said than done, but there are always people who succeed at doing this, and don’t they always seem bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning? If those people irritate you, then you probably need more sleep!
Caffeine and Other Stimulants
Which madman came up with the after-dinner coffee idea?
Great plan! Maybe we should put ice down our backs and endure some electro-shock therapy just before bedtime!
Do yourself a favour and don’t drink coffee or take anything else stimulatory within 4 or 5 hours of bed time.
If you can fall asleep after drinking coffee at night, then it’s a sign you drink too much coffee.
Also, you think you are unaffected, but adenosine receptors are still being blocked, and you might not be getting the deepest most restful sleep you could otherwise.
Sleep Aids and Supplements
Melatonin has already been mentioned as an effective sedative. Lemon balm is another, which also appears to calm an over-active mind.
Lavender is a non-sedative aid, the aroma of which reduces anxiety. You can get it in the form of oils (for your pillow), lip balms.
The lavender lip balms are really good. Rub some on the skin between your nose and your lip and let the calming smell help you drift off
This website is concerned primarily with building muscle via endogenous hormone maximization.
Sleep time is the best parts of the days to bank some serious muscle growth.
While you are out for the count and dreaming of being a champion mud-wrestler (or you know, whatever), your body is doing so much more than you can imagine.
After a good stretch of regular sleep, quality training and nutrition, the results will astound you.