​3 Ways Sleep Helps You Build Lean Muscle

Find out how sleep influences muscle building and fat loss and why a good nights sleep is important for being lean.

October 22, 2015
​3 Ways Sleep Helps You Build Lean Muscle

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Train, eat, sleep, repeat.

This is what your days look like when you are muscle building. You pay attention to your training and nutrition, but do you even know how sleep affects the process?

Recovery is what actually builds muscle, so don't let this crucial part go to waste because:

  • your muscles grow during sleep, not while you're working out
  • lack of sleep blocks muscle gain
  • sleep deprivation can cause additional fat gain


When you fall asleep, muscles relax and get increased blood flow. The muscle tissue used during the day gets rebuilt through protein synthesis. That's why babies sleep a lot, sleeping = growing. Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. The more deep sleep you get, the more you can grow.

How does it work? The process of muscle building, also called anabolism, is regulated by hormones such as the growth hormone and testosterone. The growth hormone reaches it's peak levels during sleep, while the sleep duration positively affects the secretion cycle of testosterone.

Takeaway: Don't just sweat for gains, sleep good, and let the hormones work while you relax.


When you don't sleep enough, you stimulate the breakdown of muscles. To achieve muscle gain, your body has to build more muscle than it breaks down during the day. As long as the breakdown rate is too high, you can't be getting new gains. Actually, you may be losing the ones you already have.

How does it work? Lack of sleep stimulates the secretion of catabolic hormones that induce the breakdown of muscles, also called catabolism. When you are not sleeping enough, instead of using your fat stores for energy, you are using the protein from your muscles.

Takeaway: If you're dreaming of getting bigger, don't wake up too soon.


Sleep deprivation not only makes you lose muscle mass, it stimulates fat gain, too. When you don't sleep enough, you eat more during the day and keep craving sugar and junk food. And it's not just the crazy appetite, research suggests that loss of sleep causes stress that can ruin your fat loss even when you're eating clean.

How does it work? The hormones that regulate you appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin, are influenced by sleep. Also, bad sleep results with poor insulin resistance, meaning you need even more sugar to satisfy your cravings. The higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, give your body signals that it's under attack and might be starving, so extra fat can get stored, especially in the abdominal area.

Takeaway: Drooling over the picture above? Ask yourself if you had enough sleep. You might discover an important element that's lacking in your mission to become lean.

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