Muscle growth: how important is sleep?
Do you get enough sleep? Find out how sleep affects muscle growth and how to sleep your way to success!
We are all familiar with the saying 'You can't out-train a bad diet', but this one is equally relevant: 'You can't compensate for a lack of sleep.'
WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?
Muscle growth (hypertrophy) occurs after a workout, not during. When we finish our workout, our muscles end up with a large number of microscopic ruptures - they break and the regeneration process is what makes them grow.
In order to strengthen those muscles, our body needs to repair them and that's when the key elements jump in: nutrition and sleep.
Most people are aware of the nutrients they need to consume after workouts, but they don't devote enough attention to sleep.
While sleeping, our body is in an anabolic state (if proteins are consumed prior to sleep), which means it produces larger amounts of human growth hormone, testosterone and melatonin than during the day. Male body produces even 60% to 70% more human growth hormone while sleeping.
If your sleep is interrupted, a complete repair of the soft tissue is impossible due to the absence of HGH (human growth hormone) which is at its highest levels during deep sleep.
Another thing to keep in mind is that our brain recharges while we sleep. A recharged brain means high focus, better bodily functions and a better overall performance.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SLEEP?
Most studies have shown that somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep is the ideal amount of sleep per night.
If you sleep more than 10 hours in one night, you might reset your body’s natural clock and you may find it difficult to fall asleep in the evening. The best thing is to have a routine, i.e. go to bed every night at around the same time.
Getting enough rest will help reduce stress levels, which also means lower cortisol levels.
DOES FOOD AFFECT SLEEP?
Everything we eat or drink before sleeping affects our night rest. You would never drink coffee right before going to bed, right? Well, there’s a few more things to keep in mind.
Alcohol - Even relatively small amounts of alcohol will suppress plasma growth hormone values.
Calcium and Magnesium deficiency may also cause insomnia. If you have trouble falling asleep or falling back to sleep when awakened, you might be experiencing this issue.
Medications, caffeine and poor food choices might also disrupt sleep patterns.
Before going to bed, choose foods like bananas, figs, dates, oatmeal, turkey, tuna, yogurt and grapefruit because they are high in tryptophan, which helps produce melatonin - helping us sleep.
Also, as we mentioned in one of our previous articles, the lack of sleep makes us hungrier during the day. So, don’t go around eating bad foods that make you sleep poorly, because that is a vicious circle.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
Bad sleep or the lack of it makes us hungry, tired, less capable to perform daily activities, not to mention that it makes us lose our gains. In order to prevent that from happening, remember these tips for a better night’s sleep.
Avoid training before bed - it will make you alert and awake, so if possible, finish your workout 4-6 hours prior to bedtime.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol at least 6 hours before going to sleep.
Avoid watching TV from your bed. The bright flashes and sounds will also make you more awake and the interesting plot will keep your mind engaged.
Keep the routine - having a routine is an easier way to live, and to fall asleep. When you have a certain time when you fall asleep, it is less likely you will stay awake until 3AM.
Create a pre-bedtime routine. If we do a bunch of exciting things before bedtime, we won’t be able to go to sleep. The best thing you can do is ditch the electronics (yes, smartphone, TV, tablets...) and relax. Meditation or a hot shower/bath will help you relax and prepare your body for the rest (and muscle growth) ahead. You don’t have to do the same routine every night, just do the things that relax you.
Ditch the sleeping pills. They may cause addiction and broken sleeping patterns. It is a short-term solution. You can choose natural remedies like Valerian Root.