Most people believe the more time you spend in the gym the more muscle growth you will experience. This is not necessarily true. More time in the gym does not equal better results. Proper sleep is often overlooked as a critical factor when it comes to gaining muscle.
How Does Sleep Affect Muscle Growth?
Blood sugar/carbs is our body’s primary source of energy. It’s a type of sugar that’s stored in the body for when we need it. It’s the only kind of sugar that can be broken down by the body and be used for energy. Any other sugar that’s ingested is broken down into blood sugar before our muscles can use it for energy. During sleep, blood sugar gets stored in the muscle and liver as muscle glycogen. While blood sugar exists in other parts of the body like the blood. The liver its preferred location is in muscle glycogen. This is because it produces more energy than when it’s in the blood.
As you sleep, the pituitary gland releases growth hormones, which produces insulin-like growth hormones essential for muscle repair. Your body doubles down on turning protein into amino acids. The insulin growth factor pushes carbs into your muscle cells, giving them energy to repair broken down tissue. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is one of the primary compounds that allows muscles to recover and grow. Along with other functions, our bodies need it to actually use the amino acids present in the protein we eat. The time when the blood stream is flooded with HGH is during sleep. To stimulate an even greater release of HGH during sleep you should try to eat 30 minutes before and after a resistance training session.
During REM sleep, blood flow to your muscles increases, and tissue growth/repairs occurs. REM sleep makes your muscles relax which help relieve tension and reduces chronic pain. In addition to muscle growth, coordination is also improved when you get a sufficient amount of sleep. Research shows that sleep also restores: organs, bones, and tissue; replenish immune cells; and circulate HGH.
Diminishing Sleep Cycle= Diminishing Muscles
A study in 2011 examined how sleep deprivation affects muscle gain and recovery. The study followed individuals with strict sleeping schedules for 72 hours. During this time, one group was allowed 5.5 hours of sleep another was allowed 8.5 hours. All individuals followed a calorie regulated diet. Researchers discovered that the individuals who slept 5.5 hours had 60% less muscle mass at the end of the study, while the 8.5 hour group had totaled 40% more muscle mass.
Sleep is just as important as going to the gym and paying attention to your diet. Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. They are stored in the liver during REM sleep since it produces more energy. HGH is also produced more during sleep which are essential to muscle growth. Sleep is also extremely important for weight loss as well. In order to see your muscles grow you need to rest them as hard as you work them. So get the recommended amount of sleep in order to reap the benefits.
Tips to getting Adequate Sleep
It can be quite tough to get an adequate amount of sleep. Even when we do fall asleep the quality of it might not be up to par. These are some tips in order to have a sufficient sleep cycle:
- Do Not Oversleep- This will make falling asleep much harder since it sets your circadian rhythm to a different cycle.
- Take a Warm Bath- Taking a warm bath helps soothe and relax. On the other hand showers are to be avoided because they have the opposite effect.
- Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Tyrosine-Rich Foods At Night- Caffeine, it goes without saying, this will keep you up much later than you want to. Alcohol significantly disrupts sleep with the interference it has on several stages of sleep. Tyrosine rich foods include beef, pork, fish, chicken, tofu, milk, cheese, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. These are all brain stimulating and will also keep you up at night.
- Avoid Sleeping Pills- they might work temporarily but long term they will start to disrupt sleep patterns
- Environment- keep your room at a reasonable temperature (about 60 degrees). Humidity may cause disrupted sleep. A fan running or soothing music in the background may encourage sleep as well.
- Make evenings relaxed
- Don’t watch television in bed- this will increase your alertness. Your brain might also decide that bedtime is for watching TV and not for sleeping.