How important is sleep for muscle growth?
January 19. 2023
If you are working towards a body recomposition, or if you have already attained your weight goal after months of hard work, it is time to take the next step on your fitness and well-being journey: growing muscle. Or maybe you are still wondering: “should I lose weight before building muscle?” No matter the stage you’re in, if you are trying to build muscle mass, you probably started working out, bought some gym equipment or signed in to the gym, and resorted to protein supplements. All that sounds great, but you may be missing something from your muscle gain tools box: sleep. Most people have no idea of how important sleep is for muscle growth. Are you just hearing about the importance of sleep quality for muscle growth for the first time? Do not worry; we will help you better understand the connection between sleep and muscle gain.
Growing muscle is not just about aesthetics, having a toned body, and loving how you look in every dress or piece of clothing you wear. While that’s great news, it’s important to note that increasing your muscle mass comes with many health benefits: from stronger bones, ligaments, and tendons to improved ability to perform everyday tasks. The road to muscle growth tends to be slow and requires effort and commitment. But we promise you will feel incredible once you start seeing the benefits of building muscle mass. And you will be proud of yourself for sticking to your journey.
Why do we sleep?
Who does not enjoy a good night’s sleep? Nothing like going to bed after a long day, especially if you started working out. You jump into your bed, rest your head on your comfortable pillow, take your favorite position, close your eyes, and boom! – the whole world disappears for a few hours. You can finally get a much-deserved rest. But have you ever stopped to wonder why we need to sleep, and why exactly 8 hours a day?
We bet the only people who ask those questions are children refusing to cave in at bedtime. But as a functional adult with a job, responsibilities, and a workout routine, you realize you need and want those 8 hours of sleep. Today, experts from our weight loss clinic in Chicago will enlight you a bit more about what happens while you sleep and how important sleep is for muscle growth.
There is so much to learn about why we sleep, but we know that sleeping is an essential part of our lives. It has a profound impact on our physical and mental health. While we sleep, many processes occur, such as cell regeneration, energy restoration, muscle recovery, bone and tissue repair, and growth hormone production. Without enough sleep hours, our brains could not do all those vital functions, and our bodies and minds would suffer greatly.
The relationship between sleep and muscle growth
Your sleep quality and sleep duration directly impact your muscle growth. If you ever asked: “how important is sleep for muscle growth?” now you know the answer – it is vital. Without adequate sleep, your fitness and weight-loss efforts could go to waste. Our bodies need rest to perform vital functions directly connected with fat loss and muscle gain.
To gain muscle mass, you need to do two main things: eat enough protein and perform the right exercises. The benefits of strength training and hypertrophy training are many; these are the most optimal workouts to build muscle. These exercises cause muscular hypertrophy, which is an increase in muscle mass. Muscle hypertrophy occurs when the muscle tissue sustains microscopic tears. Then, your body repairs the damaged tissue through a cellular process: it fuses muscle fibers to form new muscle proteins. These repaired myofibrils (muscle fibers) grow in number and thickness during this process, which produces muscle growth (hypertrophy). And all that happens while you rest. That is right – not while lifting weights or doing squares, but while you sleep.
Besides being vital for the actual muscle-growing part, sleep is also essential for muscle recovery. During sleep time is when our bodies replenish muscle glycogen. Glycogen is our muscles’ primary fuel source; our bodies consume it during intense workouts. Besides this process, while sleeping, our bodies release the highest amount of the human growth hormone. Growth hormone release is vital because this is one of the primary compounds that allow muscle gain and proper recovery. Among other functions and benefits for our bodies, the growth hormone aids muscle repair and stimulates tissue growth.
How a lack of quality sleep affects muscle growth
Do you notice your gym buddies are making tons of progress while you do not see changes? Do you spend hours at the gym every day, eat properly, take your protein supplements, and still have no improvements in your body? Believe it or not, that all can be due to a lack of quality sleep or short sleep duration. Because it is not only crucial to sleep peacefully but also to sleep enough hours to reach your body composition goals. But we will get to that shortly. Poor sleep has numerous negative effects on your mental and physical health. This is how inadequate sleep hurts your fitness efforts:
- Inability to absorb vital nutrients: Inadequate sleep is associated with poor vitamin absorption. Several vitamins play a crucial role in muscle growth and recovery. We are talking about vitamins D, B12, and B6, among others. If your body is not absorbing vitamins properly, that can diminish your fitness efforts.
- Decreased athletic performance: sleep deprivation or poor sleep habits have a negative impact on your athletic performance. This bad habit reduces your cognitive functions, focus, and decision-making skills. Those consequences lead to a reduction in your ability to think clearly and react quickly. That will prejudice your physical exercise and every task in your daily life. Plus, you will get worn out quicker and will not be able to endure intense workouts.
- Increased injury risk: not getting enough sleep increases your chances of getting injured while working out or playing sports. You can suffer muscle strain or something worse if you do not give your body the time to rest properly. Besides, rest is vital to a fast and total recovery if you suffered a muscle injury,
- No recovery nor growth: as mentioned before, growth hormone release mostly happens while we are asleep. Two things will happen if you do not rest well after intense workouts. First, your muscle will not grow, and your fitness efforts will be in vain. And second, you will probably feel awful when trying to work out the next day because you did not allow your muscles to recover from the past training fully. You can resort to pre-workouts such as carnitine vs. creatine to boost your performance, but nothing beats a good night’s sleep.
How much sleep do you need to build muscle mass?
Now you know how important sleep is for muscle growth if you are looking to change and improve your body composition. But how much sleep is enough? We have all been told at least once in our lives that our brain requires 8 hours of sleep daily to fully rest and properly function. Still, most people barely manage to get a straight 6 hours of sleep. Is 6 hours enough to allow our muscles to recover from our workout and grow? The simple answer is no.
To maximize muscle growth and support good health, you should sleep at least 8 hours each night. Between 7 and 9 hours is the ideal number for you. Of course, that can change from one person to another since not all bodies work the same. But we must tell you that anything less than 7 hours will not do the trick. You could be suffering from a sleep condition if you have trouble falling asleep or wake up a lot through the night. Some drugs, such as Phentermine for weight loss, can disturb your sleep as a side effect if you’re not taking this weight loss aid correctly. If you have been struggling with not being able to sleep for a while, you should check this matter with a specialist.
And in case you were about to ask – and we know you were – no, napping can not replace night sleeping hours. Why can’t you grab your favorite blanket and nap your way out into growing muscles? While napping has its benefits, such as relaxation, improved mood, and reduced fatigue, it will not help you gain muscle mass. Naps tend to be short (30 minutes to 1 hour). Short sleep duration does not provide the same effects as sleeping the so-much-needed eight straight hours at night. When you nap, you never reach vital sleep stages that are crucial for muscle growth, such as deep sleep.
Stages of sleep: when do we gain muscle while sleeping
Let’s dive a little deeper into the science of sleep. Knowing how sleep works in each stage will help you understand better how sleeping helps with muscle growth. And why it is vital to avoid short sleep duration.
Traditionally, sleep has been divided into 4 phases: awake time, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement). The first three phases are part of the non-REM stage, which stands for non-rapid eye movement. The cycle lasts about 90 minutes; it repeats around five times per night. We will see what happens in each phase and which benefits they provide for our bodies and minds.
Awake time is the first phase of the non-REM stage. That is the time you spend in bed right before you actually fall asleep; it marks the passage between awakeness and sleep. This phase also includes brief awakenings during the night and typically lasts between 5 to 10 minutes. During this time, your muscles relax, and your eye movements become slower.
At this stage, eye movement ceases, and your muscles start to relax fully and may twitch. Besides, your body temperature drops, your heart rate decreases, and your respiration slow down. Being the longest of all the stages, you spend around 50% of your sleep in light sleep. In the beginning, this phase lasts about 10-25 minutes; the duration of light sleep increases as the cycle repeats itself. When at this phase, waking up is easier. This stage guides you into deep sleeping.
This stage matters the most for those trying to gain muscle mass. At the deep sleep stage, your blood pressure drops, and your breathing rate and heartbeat fall to the deepest level. During this stage, growth hormone secretion is at its peak, promoting muscle recovery and growth. Since your brain engages in little activity, your blood flow concentrates on your muscles. That aids with muscle growth and tissue repair. You can see how important the deep sleep stage is for muscle growth.
Last, we have the rapid eye movement phase. While your body is still at rest, this phase represents a significant departure from the previous three stages. At this stage, your respiration and heart rate start increasing again. The REM stage is vital because it provides the brain with energy; it benefits learning, memory, and problem-solving skills. Also, our bodies burn more calories and promote fat loss at this stage.
4 ways to improve your sleep quality to grow muscle
Specialists say you must go through each stage of the sleep cycle several times to take full advantage of sleeping to grow muscle. For that, sleep duration and quality are crucial. Here are four tips to improve sleep quality and boost your muscle building:
The best way to fall asleep fast and achieve quality sleep is to create the best possible environment. Ensure your room or sleeping environment is dark, quiet, and cool. To attain this, remove electronics from the bedroom to create a distraction-free zone. Avoid using electronics, such as your phone or the TV, at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
Develop a sleep schedule
If you have trouble sleeping, setting aside 8 hours every day can be helpful. Go to bed and get up at the same hour every day, even on the weekends. Consistency will reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Try this for a couple of months until it becomes a habit.
Mind what you eat and drink
The best is to avoid going to bed hungry or stuffed. Avoid heavy meals a couple of hours before your sleep time. Consuming alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine before bedtime can prevent you from falling asleep and mess with your sleep quality. Instead, try drinking some herbal tea half an hour before going to sleep.
Use the help of Sleep Supplements
Are you struggling to fall asleep? No matter what you do, can you not seem to fall asleep quickly or wake up multiple times at night? We have all been there at least once. It is beyond annoying, and it disrupts all areas of your life. When trouble sleeping becomes a regular thing, that can quickly scale into a big issue. Sleep aiders such as Sweet Dreamz – a melatonin supplement – can help you recover your beauty sleep. The best about this supplement is that it comes in chewable tablets that are easy to take. It will boost your sleeping hormones to achieve the night of rest of your life.
The is no doubt of how important sleep is for muscle growth. But you also have to remember that the duration and quality of sleep are crucial factors that impact your fitness or weight loss venture. A good night’s sleep is vital to boost your muscle growth and take full advantage of your workout efforts.
Do you want more tips on how to enhance your fitness journey? Schedule a call with us. Our team is ready to help you.
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