Sleep For Muscle Growth - Rest & Recovery Are
Critical For Success
is a way of life. To achieve and maintain a high level, there are
many parts that need to fit together. Type and intensity of exercise,
and nutrition are well known components. However, many people overlook
the importance of sleep. Without an adequate amount on a regular
basis, we will not attain the success we work so hard for in the
gym. The recognized average is 8 hours a night. While it is true
that people can and do function with less, 8 hours has been scientifically
proven to be the optimal amount that the vast majority of us need
to give our bodies to fully recover from the stresses of exercise
and help keep us in good health.
Recovery during sleep is a result of two processes.
The body experiences an increased rate of anabolism and a decreased
rate of catabolism. These work together to create metabolism.
Anabolism is the synthesis of cell structures, or
in other words, the building of new cellular material such as enyzmes,
proteins, and cells. This is essential for tissue growth, maintenance,
and repair. Anabolism occurs during non-REM sleep, which is about
75-80% of your sleep time. For the new material to be created, energy
Energy comes from catabolism, which is the breakdown
of cell structures. In addition to producing energy, catabolism
also recycles molecular components, and controls their excretion.
When anabolism exceeds catabolism, net growth occurs.
When catabolism exceeds anabolism, net loss occurs. Therefore by
reducing the rate of catabolism, anabolism is increased, and results
in faster recovery, an increased growth rate, and an overall higher
level of performance. If you are working hard to build muscle mass,
you should try to get an extra hour of sleep each night.
Many studies have shown that deprivation of sleep
negatively impacts your body by altering the amount of several hormones:
- Cortisol - releases too much. Cortisol is a catabolic
stress hormone that increases abdominal fat storage and stimulates
the breakdown of muscle tissue for use as energy.
- Testosterone - lowers your body's level. The higher your
levels of testosterone, the more muscle you can build.
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH) - limits your body's production.
During sleep, your body experiences a natural surge in HGH which
helps build and maintain muscle.
- Insulin - reduces your body's uptake of important nutrients
into your cells. Less sleep translates to higher insulin resistance
levels, meaning your body needs to release higher-than-normal
amounts of insulin to compensate, which can lead to excess fat
storage, diabetes, or heart disease.
a lack of sleep stymies tissue repair, weakens your immune system,
contributes to weight gain (not lean mass), increases your risk
of injury, lowers your performance, decreases energy, increases
irritability, and lessens focus.
A recent study of Olympian athletes supported these
findings, and also added that a person who needs 8 hours of sleep
each night yet only gets 6 hours, will exhibit performance similar
to if he/she had a 0.05 blood alcohol level.
Additionally, the researchers found that low light,
cool temperature, and background noise helped the athletes achieve
8 hours of restful sleep. The low light helps the body release the
hormone melatonin which a body needs to sleep. Daniel McNally, MD,
Director of Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Connecticut
Health Center said, "Your body temperature tracks your circadian
rhythm, so as night begins, your body temp falls and it reaches
a minimum right after you go to bed. If you are in an environment
where you can't lose body heat, for instance if it's hot and humid,
you won't sleep well."
The benefits of sleep are obvious. In addition to
the suggestions above, here are other steps can you take to improve
the quantity and quality of your sleep:
- Limit your alcohol. Although drinking may make you feel
sleepy, alcohol actually disrupts the quality of your sleep.
- Invest in a comfortable bed, pillow, and blanket.
- Establish a routine. Try to wake and go to bed at nearly
the same time every day, even on weekends. Sleeping 10 hours one
night, and then 6 the next is not effective. You can't "make
up" for lost sleep.
- Stop relying on the snooze button to get a few extra
minutes of sleep. It throws off your internal circadian clock.
Set the alarm for the time you want to get out of bed and do it.
- If you nap during the day, limit it to 20 minutes. Similarly,
if you are trying to nap and aren't falling asleep quickly, get
up. Don't lie awake for hours.
- Plan your workout so you finish at least 4 hours before
you go to bed. Your body needs time to "come down" from
the release of endorphins that occurs during exercise. You should
also replenish the nutrients in your body by eating after you
exercise, and most people aren't comfortable eating and then immediately
going to bed.
It is important for you to understand and accept that it may take
time to adjust your sleep schedule. Be patient and don't give up.
Just like you must work to build muscles, you must also work to
train your body to sleep.